Jeff Simpson will never see his day in court. Despite a 1984 Child Protective Services report concluding Simpson suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his former foster parent Ed Murray, prosecutors never filed criminal charges and the statute of limitations has long passed on filing a civil case.
Whatever you believe about the criminal justice system's ability to handle disclosures from child sex abuse victims—and data shows that, often, that system fails—calls to keep the allegations against the mayor out of the court of public opinion have long lost their relevance. Elected officials and candidates for mayor have been making comments on the nature of the allegations and what to believe for the last four months.
Below is a timeline of commentary on the child sex abuse allegations. Because, whatever the outcome of Murray's political career, we believe that in a time when an advocate for "pussy grabbing" runs the country, what these public figures say has impact and is worth examining. (We will continue updating this page with comments as officials make them.)
April 6: The Seattle Times breaks news of a lawsuit alleging that Ed Murray sexually abused a teenager, now a 46-year-old Kent man known as "D.H.," in the 1980s. The story also reveals two preexisting child sex abuse allegations against Murray: one from Murray's former foster son, Jeff Simpson, and one from another man, Lloyd Anderson. Murray denies the allegations. His personal spokesman, Jeff Reading, says the allegations seek to damage Murray's political career within weeks of his filing for reelection.
April 7: Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski says of the allegations: "It would be reasonable at least to ask the question about any political motivation." She continues: "We've heard stories in the past about how this impacts someone's reputation."
April 7: Mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver says her campaign has "no interest" in commenting on the specifics of the allegations, but that "we must recognize that sexual abuse and assault is a rampant problem in our society."
April 11: Ed Murray's lawyers share a medical report describing the mayor's genitals in response to the claim of a unique marking on them in the D.H. lawsuit. Reading says this medical report is evidence of a conspiracy against the mayor. Murray lawyer Bob Sulkin says the two other accusers' claims are "debunked."
April 13: Simpson's former lawyer, Brian Williams, who took up Simpson's civil case against Ed Murray in 2007, says the case was dropped because of statute-of-limitations laws on child sexual abuse—not because of issues with Simpson's credibility. Williams says he believed Simpson. "I encouraged Jeff to go to the media back at the time, but in terms of a lawsuit, I didn't feel like there was anything I could do to help him," Williams said.
April 14: "I've been praying about getting this out so people can hear it, and let chips fall where they may," Simpson, now married for six years and sober, tells The Stranger. "But I'm not lying."
April 14: Murray publishes an editorial on Slog calling the allegations politically motivated. He attacks the Seattle Times and the credibility of his former foster son and first accuser, Simpson. Murray writes that Simpson's criminal history "proves he cannot be trusted." City Council Member Sally Bagshaw says she has "faith in this mayor."
April 16: Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini calls for Murray to resign. She writes: "No one, not these alleged survivors, not Mayor Murray, and certainly not the rest of the city should be subjected to the pain, trauma, and humiliation of this case playing out on a daily basis in the press for weeks and months to come."
April 17: Former mayor Mike McGinn announces a run for mayor against Ed Murray. Two days later, urbanist Cary Moon announces she is also joining the mayoral race.
April 19: KUOW covers the silence surrounding the allegations from public figures. Directors of sexual assault organizations decline to comment. So does the Seattle City Council (as a group). "It's heartbreaking," Askini says. She helps Council Member Kshama Sawant craft a "value-neutral" statement. "We have heard in recent days how survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are reliving their own experiences of summoning the courage to come forward only to have their characters attacked," Sawant's statement reads.
April 21: Anderson, one of Murray's three public accusers, says he wants Murray to resign. "Because it can wreck a person for their lives, you know," he says. "I mean, it screwed me up my whole life."
May 2: A fourth man, Maurice Lavon Jones, accuses Murray of paying him for sex in the 1980s, while Jones was still a teenager.
May 8: State senator Bob Hasegawa joins the race for mayor.
May 9: Murray drops his bid for reelection at a press conference at the Alki Beach Bathhouse.
May 9: Mayoral candidates McGinn and Moon say Murray should go a step further and resign.
May 12: Former US attorney Jenny Durkan and state representative Jessyn Farrell announce mayoral campaigns.
June 14: D.H., who has since come forward as Delvonn Heckard, drops his lawsuit against Murray and says he will refile it next year. Murray holds a press conference the same day and says Heckard's decision to drop the lawsuit "vindicates me." He also says he isn't ruling out the possibility of a write-in campaign. In a statement, mayoral candidate Farrell says her "heart goes out to Mayor Murray" and his husband. She also says city residents "must reject the politics of personal destruction."
June 29: Ed Murray says he won't run a write-in campaign. He endorses Durkan for mayor. Durkan says she's "honored" to have his endorsement.
July 16: The Seattle Times publishes excerpts from a Child Protective Services report on Ed Murray concluding that he sexually abused Simpson. Murray lawyer Katherine Heekin, who also represented Murray while trying to quash Simpson's attempted 2007 lawsuit, responds by saying that CPS is "supposed to err on the side of believing a child's accusations."
July 16: Mayoral candidate Farrell says the mayor should resign. The CPS report "severely undermines our confidence in his ability to carry out the duties of his office," Farrell tells The Stranger.
July 17: City Council Member Lorena González calls on Murray to resign. Murray says he won't. Counci Member Sally Bagshaw urges her colleagues to "avoid grandstanding on this." Council Member Debora Juarez says, "I know that forgiveness is hard but I also know that when you forgive, that doesn't mean you forget." In remarks to reporters, Council President Bruce Harrell says Seattleites "did not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn't happen. We just don't know. And I would ask that I don't want to be judged for anything 33 years ago."
July 17: "Of course" he should resign, says mayoral candidate Oliver. "At this point, if he doesn't hold himself to account, the burden falls on other elected officials and the city council."
July 18: "It's one thing to defend yourself as an individual; it's another thing as an elected official to undermine the integrity of the whole Child Protective Services system," Kathryn Becker Blease, an assistant professor of psychology specializing in child abuse at Oregon State University, tells The Stranger. Data show that CPS screens out a majority of disclosures from children alleging abuse, and child sexual abuse claims rarely make it to trial.
July 18: All but two of the leading six mayoral candidates—Durkan and Hasegawa—have said Murray should resign. When asked in a debate, Durkan dodges the question and says she believes "deeply in due process." Hasegawa says, "We need to let the process play itself out."
July 21: In an op-ed for Crosscut, community organizer and onetime Seattle City Council candidate Tammy Morales calls on Murray to resign and "be held accountable for his moral turpitude." Recounting her own trauma of childhood sexual abuse, Morales reminds Murray's supporters that although the abuse happened decades ago, "it does not make it any less real."
July 24: The City of Seattle's LGBTQ Commission calls on Murray to resign. "We perceive your attempt to dismiss these claims as a 'politically motivated' monolithic issue of homophobia to be a maneuver that is divisive and damaging to our community."
July 24: Four former mayors—Charles Royer, Wes Uhlman, Norman Rice, and Greg Nickels—say in a letter to reporters that Murray should not resign. The former mayors argue that a transition would be "messy and time consuming." When asked if he believes the allegations against the mayor, Royer says: "If you don't know the truth, you have to believe your friends, I guess."
July 24: Without support from a majority of her colleagues, Council Member Lorena González appears to give up on impeaching Murray. She expresses support for a joint mayor/city council committee to transition power from Murray to the next mayor. "If we say a lot [but] then it's a normal transition [to the next mayor]," says Council Member Sawant, "then ultimately, where do we stand with sexual violence survivors? Are we going to take the kind of action that is demanded by the situation or not?"
July 27: Heckard files a claim with the city of Seattle, saying the mayor defamed him by claiming his allegations were part of a right-wing conspiracy.
July 31: Council Member Sawant calls for Murray's resignation and says the city council should take action to remove the mayor if he doesn't step down on his own. "Impeaching the mayor is not a statement of his guilt or innocence, but rather a decision to put the burning needs of our city above the political interests and career of one person," she writes
July 31 The local chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) calls for Murray's resignation. “As members of SNAP we know how systems and organizations cover up, protect, obfuscate, blame, and try to protect their assets and reputations," the group wrote in a statement to the city council. "Even offenders wield a certain power over victims, often silencing their voices, accusations and stories, at times, forever.”
Correction: Due to an editing error, this article originally stated that Heckard filed a defamation lawsuit against Murray on July 27. In fact, he filed a claim for damages with the city of Seattle