Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Tuesday that he will resign after his younger cousin became the fifth man to claim the mayor sexually abused him as a teenager.
Murray, a Democrat and the city's first openly gay mayor, had planned to serve out his current term, which ends Dec. 31, but announced his resignation after his cousin, Joseph Dyer, told the Seattle Times that Murray "forced him into sex for about a year" when he was 13.
“And that’s when he would molest me. And my mother would be right there in the house, she’d be in the living room … watching TV, at that time it was probably 'M*A*S*H,'" Dyer, now 54, told the Times. "And my sisters would be in their rooms, sleeping. And I would be in my room, and he would be in there, molesting me.”
Murray denied and rebuked his cousin's claims, contending Dyer was trying to smear him over a family rift.
“There’s been numerous fights between our two families for many years, and much ugliness. I guess they see me down and out, and they want to finish me off," the mayor told the Times.
Still, Murray said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that he chose to step down because "it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public’s business."
In April, a lawsuit accused the 62-year-old Democrat of having sexually abused a troubled and drug-addicted 15-year-old boy in the 1980s. In the complaint, the man, now 46, said Murray had sex with him in exchange for small amounts of money and, that on at least one occasion, the teen saw another apparently underage boy at Murray's apartment.
Since that suit was filed, three other men have made similar accusations. Jeff Simpson said Murray abused him as a teen while he was his foster son. Another man said Murray paid him for sex when he was a drug-addicted, homeless teen.
Murray has repeatedly and emphatically denied that he sexually abused anyone, saying back in May that "the allegations against me paint me in the worst possible historic portrait of a gay man."
"It hurts those who have been victims of abuse. It hurts my family. It hurts [my husband] Michael," he said after deciding several months ago to not seek reelection.
Murray, a Seattle native, has been in public office for more than two decades, serving in the Washington state legislature before becoming mayor. On Tuesday, he said he would officially step down at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and touted his accomplishments in public office, including massive transportation packages, a gay civil rights bill, and a marriage equality bill he helped pass while in the legislature.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished together at the City during my time as mayor, passing a nation-leading $15 minimum wage, and major progressive housing affordability and police accountability legislation, as well as negotiating an agreement to build a world-class arena that I believe in time will bring the NHL and NBA to Seattle," Murray said.
“But it has also become clear to me that in light of the latest news reports it is best for the city if I step aside," he added. "To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation."
City Council President Bruce Harrell will become interim mayor and must decide by next week if he wants to stay in the position for the remainder of Murray's term.