The story from the Seattle Times was published on September 12 at 11 a.m. By 1:10 p.m., Mayor Ed Murray's office announced notice of his resignation.
After five months of allegations, the Seattle mayor who had withstood four accusations of child sex abuse—now a fifth from his younger cousin—would finally leave his post. Elected in 2013, Murray resigned less than four months shy of finishing his full term.
Seattle City Council president Bruce Harrell will become mayor for five calendar days. During that time, he will decide whether he wants to keep the seat until after the election. If not, the city council will vote on one of its members to replace him.
Harrell gave no indication today of whether he will accept the mayorship. "I intend to make an announcement within the five days on my intentions and will talk to my family, my colleagues on the Seattle City Council, and trusted members of our city on this decision with the understanding that the city and continuity of governance comes before all other factors," Harrell said.
The resignation will mean that Seattle's next mayor—engineer Cary Moon or former US Attorney Jenny Durkan—will assume office when election results are certified in November, rather than in January as usual.
Since April, the mayor has faced criticism for attacking his accusers over their criminal and mental-health backgrounds. He dropped out of his bid for reelection on May 9, though multiple mayoral candidates and two city council members additionally called on him to resign. Survivors of sex abuse and the city's LGBTQ Commission pleaded with him to do the same.
Nevertheless, Murray continued serving with political support from longtime allies. Council Member Sally Bagshaw and mayoral front-runner Jenny Durkan offered praise for the accused mayor. Former mayoral candidate Jessyn Farrell, once a Murray supporter, decried the "politics of personal destruction" in the requests for Murray to resign before reversing her position in the wake of a revelation (also from the Seattle Times) that Child Protective Services previously concluded that Murray had abused his foster son, Jeff Simpson. City council president Harrell said Seattleites "did not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn't happen." The city council declined to pursue impeachment.
In his resignation notice, Murray maintained his innocence, as he has done since the Seattle Times first published allegations from accusers in April. "While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public's business," he wrote.
On the morning of September 12, the Seattle Times reported that a cousin of Murray's, Joseph Dyer, 54, had told his mother that Murray allegedly sexually abused him starting when he was 13. Dyer, a married air force veteran and dialysis technician, told the Seattle Times that he came forward only after he learned of the other accusations against Murray and the denials that Murray offered in response.
Lloyd Anderson, one of the two men who claims Murray abused him while Murray worked at a Portland group home for children, said in a statement through his lawyer that he felt "victory" but "saddened that it required another victim to come forward for him to resign."
"I wonder how many other victims are out there," Anderson, 51, said.
Dyer, the fifth accuser, additionally claimed that his alleged abuse ended after another boy in the Catholic group home where Murray worked in New York made similar allegations of abuse.
Dyer said he was glad Murray was leaving office, but he expressed frustration that Murray had even been elected after the State of Oregon concluded that he had abused his foster son. Dyer also expressed dismay over comments from council members saying it's not the governing body's responsibility to act on the allegations.
"Everyone deserves their moment in court, an honest fair trial and all of that," Dyer said by phone. "But impeachment is not law. It's political. And if he has more than a reasonable doubt of moral turpitude, as the other council member liked to say, they should have investigated him."
Mary Dispenza, leader of the Northwest chapter of the Survivors Network, also said she felt that the city council had a responsibility to take action. The Survivors Network wrote to the council in July to ask for Murray's resignation.
"You reach a point where you acknowledge you're powerless to some degree—that was a sad moment," Dispenza said of the process of trying to convince the council to pressure Murray to step down. "Experiencing that powerlessness again for survivors is what many of us experienced when we felt that we, or the particular survivors in this case, were not being believed, not being honored, and never getting their day of justice and truth."
"To me, this was a pattern of how systems don't want to face the truth of their leader," Dispenza continued, "and work together in collaboration to cover and to hide." Danni Askini, the executive director of Gender Justice League who also called for Murray's resignation, agreed. "The lesson from this is just to listen and hear survivors and believe them. That's all most survivors are asking from the start, which is just to be heard," she said.
A former state legislator, Murray rose to prominence in Olympia for his work on LGBTQ civil-rights issues and marriage equality. He had a reputation dating back to his legislative days of a thin skin and a temper. Yet, with significant campaign cash and a business-labor coalition, he beat former mayor Mike McGinn in 2013. During Murray's term in office, Seattle's economy has rebounded, Amazon has changed the city's skyline, and the number of people living in homeless shelters and on the streets has increased.
In increasingly left-leaning Seattle, Murray has played the role of a centrist. He created task forces to craft a $15 minimum wage proposal, address hate crimes against LGBTQ people, and come up with a plan for the city's housing affordability crisis. But he has faced criticism from those who say that plan does not demand enough from developers and from advocates who criticize his administration's continued sweeps of homeless encampments.
Since the allegations surfaced and more elected officials called for his resignation, Murray has mostly focused on attempting to build a legacy as if the allegations do not exist. The latest step in that process was a plan to renovate KeyArena. A press conference to announce the deal was scheduled for Tuesday morning. News of the latest allegations broke just as that press conference began. Murray didn't show.