Features Jan 31, 2018 at 4:00 am

Their boss allegedly committed sexual assault and abuse. He denied everything. They had to decide: Who do I believe? What do I do?

Nate Gowdy


That black and white photo is not kind to acne scars.
The Stranger was one of his biggest apologists. Giving Ped Murray a platform to victim bash even after the claims continued to snowball. Seattle's elites and media collectively own much of the shame for protecting the status quo and having to be dragged kicking and screaming to see the forest through the trees.
This was really long. Is this all that came from your stint there? Boring.
I have a hard time believing that the most interesting or notable aspect of the Ed Murray scandal was how a bunch of entitled political hacks felt about it all.
Who is Ed Murray? Wait - Isn’t he the one with the tent city named after him. Like a decade ago? What did they call it? “Nickelsville”. No that was another mayor democrat from way back when times were better. Oh Never mind - tomorrow I’ll see if I can find someone in a pink hat who really cares.
Thank god Jackie Robinson and Obama were better barrier-breakers than Ed Murray and Sam Adams.
The piece needs some serious editing.

"that the allegations were false."

The allegations could had been false, but Murray's OP/ED piece in The Stranger, to me was the beginning of the end for me. He mainly attacked the Seattle Times and then went personally went after his accusers, one of them, he was a legal guardian at the time. Attacking Jeff Simpson, was really sleazy of Murray. I wanted to believe Murray, because how Heckard's lawsuit was filed and the lawyers behind it, but Murray appreared to be hiding something in his Stranger OP/ED..

In many ways, I feel Murray lived a charmed life in politics that these accusations did not sink him years before..
Excellent piece. Although it was at times difficult (i.e. painful) to read, the city needed this. Thanks, Mr. Sanders.
@8: Ugh, it’s your unreadable comment that needs editing.
Thank you, Eli, for a fascinating description of how propaganda works: a steady drip, drip, drip of accusations, allegations, misdirections, constantly repeated, all feeding into the Big Lie; in this case, the old, negative, and thoroughly discredited stereotype of the gay man as sexual predator. It’s a tried and true formula, at least in the short term (the truth having a tendency to outlast lies), and it can still be used to deny voters their choice, here and there.

While our idiotic chattering political class was swiftly and helplessly gulled by this obvious display of propaganda, we voters never were; we decisively elected Murray’s endorsed successor over a candidate who’d demanded he resign.
In 1993 I was 15. My friend, she was 15 as well. I remember her getting married at the time to a guy that was 26. It was legal, as it still is in many states.

And Murray is a pedo....rrrriiiiight.

Is it wrong for someone that old to fuck around with a teenager, hell yea. Should it be codified into law? Of course.

Curious if folks would have responded the same way if gay marriage was legal at the time and he simply married the 15 year old, just like every heterosexual male did years ago when marrying 14 & 15 year olds.

Guess we’ll never know.

Calling Murray—a gay man—a pedophile has a long history that’s rooted in the idea propagated for generations that gay people are child molesting perverts. People got away with it in this instance because they could.

He should have resigned much sooner, but it’s just interesting how people are all up in arms about something that Again is legal in many US states even today.
Very good article. I've wondered how staff felt while this was going on right in front of them. I still wonder how Murray's husband dealt with it, and also how HIS staff and colleagues dealt with it, since he was (maybe still is) working in the City Parks and Rec Dept.
A "Fallujah" day, huh? I don't want to be stuffy, and it's not my place either, really, but you could have restrained yourself from using that heedless metaphor.
Good job, Eli! I’m glad you were there to document the trauma so many of us felt, and we weren’t even working for him. I hope everything gets better for all of them after good public service. Thanks for doing such a great job of writing this!
1) Ambitious. Well done.
2) Revise without “Fallujah”, as it is silly to draw a comparison between a huffy day in the civil service, and someone exploding next to you in an ambush.
3) Next week, at staff meeting, feel entitled to stare across the table and whisper “Yo! Mudede! When you gonna’ do anything even close to this?”
Dude is troubled. Unforgivable that he 'allegedly' took it out on others.
I actually find Ed Murray more loathsome than Donald Trump.
@16 Totally agree on "Fallujah." I winced the first time I read that and then each time Eli returned there. Unless there were burned corpses hanging in the Mayor's office along with those oddly juxtaposed pictures, let's not go there.

I actually find you more feckless than Alfred E. Neuman, yet you just keep commenting here anyway.

(If Ed Murray had actually paid hush money to someone and we now had a record of it, that alone would be far more evidence of his misdeeds than has yet been presented.)
Eli, this is interesting, but it's an article mostly about the time before you got there, mostly from interviews after you left? I was hoping for an inside view on being with Burgess as mayor. Is another in the works?
Apparently the consultant inner circle knew in 2012, and had contingency plans.

Hiii Sandeep Kaushik, talk to us.


with Murray in 2012 when the then-senator was considering a run for Seattle mayor. Campaign organizers and consultants considered how the mayoral candidate could respond to potential allegations. It was known then that he could face allegations of child abuse — particularity from his former foster son, Jeff Simpson. Murray reportedly said he kept records that painted Simpson as “a manipulative criminal.” Murray noted that Oregon officials opted not to charge him with any crimes after authorities banned him from having a foster son ever again — this followed allegations that Murray molested Simpson while under his care. They also discussed how media previously refused to run stories about such allegations.
"That the truth was somewhere in the middle. That they did know each other. That they probably engaged in quasi-sexual relationships, and Murray knew that he didn't have anywhere to stay and didn't have food and so would give him money. So, sort of survival-type transactions."

Man, this quote is stomach twisting.

A teenage kid being sexually exploited and abused was not a victim but hustling an adult for a place to stay and food to eat and the adult is somehow the victim? The adult wasn't the ultimate arbiter of maybe not going there at all with an individual who was at risk and couldn't consent even if he wasn't at risk?

But then I realize this was a Murray staffer so makes sense that they're a piece of shit.
Pretty gutless how the Stranger doesn't hold itself accountable for being so WRONG about Ed Murray. What's the point of an alt newspaper that parrots the elites and status quo? You kissed his ass too.

Real newspapers admit mistakes, the Stranger only offers snarky faux "Regrets" columns once a year. Gutless.
It is said that a critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, but afterwards go out and shoot the wounded.
Slogs coverage of the demise of Murray; after spending years covering up for him; seems even sleazier.
@25: Murray and his political team knew in 2009 that someone was exploiting Jeff Simpson for his story; Simpson had written to every member of the Washington State Legislature that year, repeating his long-discredited accusations. Since Simpson was in contact with the vile anti-gay Rev. Hutcherson, and Hutcherson was fighting a losing battle with then-Sen. Murray over gay marriage, it seems obvious Hutcherson was the one exploiting Simpson for the purpose of smearing Murray.

Once Murray and his political team knew that Simpson was being manipulated, they prepared a defense, which they used effectively.
@29: If you knew the case, you would know that your "long-discredited accusations" statement in regard to Simpson is false - considering Oregon case worker's statements.

The plaintiff's legal counsel's disposition on homosexuality is immaterial. It doesn't change the facts of Murray's child molesting history.

My god, his sycophants even knew about it before running for mayor. How sick is that!

Obviously Murray's defense was not effective, because good triumphs evil.
15 year old boys have sex all the time, big whoop it was for money, at least they get something for boinking fat old men!
The lede is ridiculous saying someone should have thought to remove the art depicting young men of color. You can't be serious, nor can your editor.

Also I agree with @24, can we please have the other article on what it was like to write speeches for Tim Burgess as temporary mayor?
Thank you for writing this, Eli Sanders, and thank you to the people working at City Hall that are there for the purest of reasons, for the ones that would sacrifice themselves to a point of malnourishment to try and make things better, for the hope that things can be better, for maintaining poise in the face of great pressure, adversity, harassment, controversy, and just continue to go to work day in and day out... a lot of great work is being done that goes for granted, and i just want to point out that... while there is so much to point to that is unbelievably bad, there is still this thing that drives people to be... to be unbelievably good. Thank you.
...considering Oregon case worker's statements.

The report to which you refer clearly describes Jeff Simpson’s accusations against https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-new…">two of his former foster parents, Ed Murray and another man, whose name was redacted from the released version:

The withdrawn case included another foster parent Simpson had accused of abuse.

Simpson blatantly contradicted this last year, telling the Stranger:

Simpson said: "Nobody has ever sexually molested me besides Ed Murray. So no, absolutely no, I haven't made false allegations. There have been no investigations of sexual abuse other than him.”

So, if Simpson was telling the truth last year, the document you cited states fraudulent accusations against the other person it named. If he was lying last year, then the document you cited was based entirely on the claims made by someone known to lie about exactly those claims.

Take your pick, and remember whichever you choose, you will be helping good (truth) to triumph over evil (lies).
SOLID and substantial reporting, Sir. I have a picture now,,,
Amazing the mental gymnastics some (well, OK, the last) of Ed Murray's defenders will put themselves through.

That's some hardcore denial of solidly documented facts. Simpson lied to the Stranger about the accusations he'd made back in the 1980s. He knew he'd accused more than one person, but everyone thought the documents which detailed the investigation had been lost, so he lied to Brownstone, to further vilify Murray. But then the documents were found, and he was shown to have lied about making rape accusations.

What's it like, knowing you may have been duped by a felonious liar into repeating his false allegations against an innocent man? You seem to enjoy dishing out righteous, moralizing indignation; try taking some of it yourself.

I'm guessing you won't like it very much.
The whole point is that Murray went into politics with this very toxic skeleton in his closet, ran for office wining the pubic trust - and it is extra galling because he was campaigning for gay rights with the very essence of stereotypical attacks on gays around his neck - that gay men are child molesters. Clearly a ticking time bomb, going back to his worry about his cousin's accusation that finally brought him down, he knew it, and his advisors knew it.
The whole point is that Murray went into politics with this very toxic skeleton in his closet,

What — that he had been investigated by the police in Portland, Oregon, without charges being filed? That’s called being “cleared”. His cousin’s own blood relations say he had been fabricating malicious stories about Murray for decades. The other three accusers have yet to show they ever even met Murray. That’s all pretty weak sauce for saying a man’s a rapist.

...he knew it, and his advisors knew it.

They knew that gay men have been accused of molesting younger males forever. They knew Murray had been accused of this by Simpson, and that Murray’s tremendous success as a gay politician had created bitter losing opponents who might try attacks like these. Hence, like any smart political team, they were prepared for likely smears. Your using evidence of their prudent preparation as evidence of his guilt is just your backhanded admission of how little evidence you really have.
@39: Nobody needs evidence. The events speak for themselves.

But please continue to parse together some sort of contorted narrative to exonerate Murray. Maybe you can be his campaign manger for an Anthony Weiner style reprise someday.
“...contorted narrative...”

Yes, the document *you cited* as proof of Murray’s guilt describes how Jeff Simpson accused two different persons of having molested him, and the subsequent investigation into each of these two persons. In his recent statement to the Stranger, Simpson claimed only one person has ever molested him, and that only that one person was ever investigated. I then noted that two does not, in fact, equal one, and the logical consequence of this fact.

Please let us know which part of that “narrative” — based mostly upon a document *you* cited! — has proven too “convoluted” for you to understand.

Nobody needs evidence. The events speak for themselves.

Thank you, that may the finest distillation of your commenting philosophy yet written. Why do people try to keep confusing you with the facts? It’s so unfair!!
Ed is probably reading this post. So if it gives him a small degree of peace and comfort that at east one person out there (besides his husband) is trying to carry his torch, why should I stand in the way?

I really should have been more considerate. My deepest apologies, tensor.
Ed is probably reading this post.

Um, ok, if you say so. Your calling him “Ed” implies you know him personally, which is far better than I’ve ever known him. (Had I witnessed a series of events myself, I probably wouldn’t bother reading a second-hand review of anonymous sources, but that’s me.)

...why should I stand in the way?

Of what, exactly? Seattle has elected the candidate Murray endorsed for his successor as our current Mayor, and we’ve moved on. I’d suggest the Stranger stop repeating old, second-hand rumors, and move on too. You can do as you like. If you want to continue believing the words of a proven liar like Jeff Simpson, I obviously cannot stop you. (I can laugh at you, though.)
@43: I must confess tensor, I've also referenced the president as 'Donald' and his wife as 'Melania'.
@44: Did you also say what they were “probably” reading, and if it made them feel better?

I’ll confess I don’t care.
This makes me think of Trump continually excoriating Clinton and Obama. They've left the stage, yet he keeps bringing them back.

Murray was disgraced, resigned, and is gone. This is all now history, now news. And it's been The Stranger's lead story longer than it deserves to be.
Correction: "This is all now history, NOT news."
Tensor is quite correct about Simpson's inability to correctly recall the number of people whom he wishes to accuse of sexual misconduct. Additionally, it's worth noting that the accuser Maurice Lavon Jones, in referencing his recollection of where Mr. Murray lived at the time Jones alleges the misconduct took place, referenced as a landmark a Rite Aid that did not exist near that location until many years later.
For me the biggest gutwrencher of all is how a man who did these horrible thing to children and went on to thrust himself into the public spotlight for many long years convinced himself that no one would ever find out, or, if they did, they would thoroughly disbelieve his accusers.
@49: For me, the biggest absurdity of all comes from watching so many persons swallow and regurgitate the emissions of male convicts, heedless of the potential long-term consequences of such behaviors.

But maybe Ed Murray should simply have paid hush money, like Trump has. Trump’s payment of hush money seems to have elevated Trump past Murray in raindrop’s eyes, anyway.
@50: Not very progressive of you, shaming victims just because they've been incarcerated - and they're POC as well.
...just because they've been incarcerated -

Given your stated knowledge of the case @30, I figured you would get my reference to the well-known fact that a majority of Murray’s accusers have convictions for crimes of deceit. As you’re well aware, Delvonn Heckard and Maurice Lavon Jones have been convicted of false reporting (!), and the aforementioned liar Jeff Simpson has a felony forgery conviction. Now, I’m sure you have rock-solid reasons for believing what they say about Murray, and so you’d have no problem enlightening readers here as to why you completely believe what two false reporters and a felonious liar have to say. Do tell!

Additionally, it should be noted that in the claim Mr. Heckard filed with the court, we provided no evidence beyond his own testimony to indicate that he had ever met Mr. Murray, aside from a spurious claim about a distinguishing mark on Mr. Murray's body, which was quickly disproven in a sworn affidavit from Murray's physician. Heckard attempted to establish knowledge of Murray's apartment at the time, but in so doing, provided details regarding the layout of the apartment and the juxtaposition of its rooms which can be readily ascertained by anyone standing outside the building today.
@52: So what? Just because plaintiffs are guilty of other crimes doesn't change the facts of the case. And what about Murray's cousin in NJ or wherever it was - who was the last abuse complaint to come forward before Murray resigned? And what about the fact that Murray was worried about these things rising to the surface before he ran for mayor?

Go ahead and make your points building upon every discrepancy you can find, extrapolating on them, trying to make your case for Murray's exoneration. Heaven knows why, Murray is finished.
Murray was the perfect Seattle politician -- sociopathic. His serial pederast conduct was a symptom of that aberrant character. Another was his incessant advocacy for, adoption of, regressive tax hikes (in the state legislature, at Sound Transit, and on behalf of the City). In his sex life and his tax policies he put personal, selfish gain above the well being of the vulnerable. A pox on the houses of those enablers on the sixth and seventh floors of City Hall, in the PR firms the governments he headed hired to spin for him, the kowtowing press here, and his colleagues who circled the wagons for him. They all knew g*ddamned well he was a sociopath, but his power meant they got money so they sucked up to him.
@54 - In a case where no objectively provable facts are being offered by the plaintiffs (only their own testimony) then their credibility, or lack thereof, in prior circumstances is very much in play.

As for the cousin, Mr. Murray is on record regarding the deep schism within different branches of his own family.

Finally, it was perfectly natural that Mr. Murray would be concerned about these allegations being raised during a mayoral campaign, simply because they had been raised earlier in his political career (and boosted, at that earlier time, by one of his principal political opponents, the late Rev. Hutcherson).
@55: You neglected to excoriate the citizens of Seattle, who repeatedly voted him into offices over a period of nearly two decades, supported his policies with our votes (e.g. low-income housing levy in 2016), and who showed little interest in what the motley collection of felons -- transparently organized and presented by the political opponents he'd defeated -- said about him when they were most definitely not under oath in a court of law.

In your world, we citizens of Seattle have a lot to answer for. 'Tis all to your pity we dismiss your bigoted, ill-informed opinions as the utter garbage they are.

@54: Just because plaintiffs are guilty of other crimes...

Crimes including false reporting and forgery. Why do you give credibility to the evidence-free claims made by persons who have been found in courts of law to have engaged in crimes of deceit? That's a serious question, and no, I don't expect you ever to attempt an answer, because once your assumption of their credibility is gone, you're looking at the very serious possibility you've been duped into attacking an innocent man by repeating slanderous rumors from unreliable sources.

And what about Murray's cousin in NJ or wherever it was...

You don't even know where these alleged crimes took place, and yet you're convinced they happened. Do lecture us again on how you know more about this "case" than anyone who doubts deceptive criminals are telling the 100% pure truth.

Go ahead and make your points building upon every discrepancy you can find,

Like the little issue that there is zero evidence beyond the self-serving testimony of deceptive criminals, and of Murray's long-estranged cousin? Or that Jeff Simpson has declared the evidence *you* cited is false?

...extrapolating on them,

I haven't "extrapolated" anything. You're the one who has repeatedly granted credibility to the unverified claims of unreliable sources. You might not want to throw around big long fancy words which you clearly do not understand.

...trying to make your case for Murray's exoneration.

I cannot attempt to exonerate a person whom has not actually been found guilty of anything, and certainly not when there has been no credible evidence produced of his guilt. Your abject failure to provide such evidence here reiterates that very point.

Heaven knows why, Murray is finished.

Murray is indeed gone. I'm glad the Stranger published this article about the tumult at City Hall caused by the attacks upon Murray; it's always good to recall how such political smears hurt many innocent persons (despite @55 throwing blanket condemnations of guilt upon the innocent).

Why? Here's a few reasons, each and all of which you will continue to fail to understand: the rule of law. The presumption of innocence. The right of the accused to face his accusers in court. The right of the sovereign people to elect the officials of our choosing. The idea that a legally-elected official should not be forced from office by extra-legal means. It's for all of these reasons that I asked you questions you could not answer about claims you have made, and your hand-waving refusals to answer these questions just make the point for Murray's "exoneration" better than I ever could.
Tensor blames the victims -- people who believed the garbage spun about Murray because they were not told the truth and voted for him. That's exactly what the nasty political class around here does -- victim blaming. Murray did it in his stranger editorial, and Podolowski and Pedersen and Bagshaw did it when defending Murray. You, Tensor, are proof that the swamp that needs draining is around here, and the deplorables are those who remain on the payrolls of the machines Murray once funded.
@58: Which do you hate more about us voters here in Seattle — that we reject your slanderous garbage about our political leaders, or that we dare to enjoy great prosperity despite doing the opposite of what your economic beliefs say? Which of our behaviors makes you feel more miserably inadequate? Do tell.

(Speaking of “tell”, you did at least admit you’re hoping for a right proper purge.)
Murray left office for the greater good of the city, not because any of the lies told about him were believable. Fuck the Seattle Times and all who enabled the cruel smear campaign against this good and decent hero of gay liberation and equality.

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