It’s still way too early to know the full implications of the Seattle Times's explosive reveal that three men have accused Mayor Ed Murray of sexually abusing them in the 1980s when they were teenagers. The story came to light yesterday after one of the men filed a civil lawsuit against the mayor for “child sex abuse and illegal child prostitution.” The other two men had come to journalists with their stories about a decade ago, but no media organizations published their accusations then.
Murray denies the allegations, telling reporters today that they are “simply not true,” and that he plans to stay in office and run for re-election. But in the near term, it’ll be impossible for Murray to completely shake this off.
As the case moves forward, and if history is any indication, Murray’s team is likely to look for ways to discredit the alleged victim—or, perhaps, call into question the motivations of the alleged victim's lawyers, who work at a lawfirm whose founder has been outspoken and financially generous in his opposition to LGBT rights.
In a statement to reporters yesterday, Murray’s outside spokesperson, Jeff Reading, said the two earlier allegations, which are separate from this week's lawsuit but offer similar details, were in the past “promoted by extreme right-wing antigay activists in the midst of the marriage equality campaign.” And today, Murray called his latest accuser "troubled," echoing a sentiment from his lawyer who said Thursday the alleged victim "apparently... has a long criminal record."
(When the accusations from the two other men surfaced in the past, according to the Times, Murray also “hired an attorney, who worked to discredit the men largely based on their criminal pasts.” Discrediting accusers based on their criminal pasts will be less politically defensible in 2017—particularly for a mayor who has said addressing racial disproportionality is central to his administration and who has supported efforts to help people who struggle to access housing even “long after they have served their sentences and paid their debt to society.”)
Meanwhile, lawyers for the alleged victim, who is identified in court filings as D.H, say he is “anxious to respond to [Murray’s] public allegations of wrongful motive."
If Murray’s team eventually turns—or, in a sense, returns—to supposed political motivations for charges of sexual abuse, they will likely be pointing to this:
D.H., who alleges that Murray paid him $10 or $15 for sex at least 50 times over four to five years, is being represented by three lawyers: Des Moines lawyer Lawand Anderson and Lincoln Beauregard and Julie Kays, who both work at Connelly Law Offices, a firm with offices in Tacoma and Seattle.
Beauregard is a founding member of the office. The founder—John (Jack) Connelly—has a track record of anti-LGBT stances. In 2012, Connelly ran for state senate as a Democrat but opposed same-sex marriage. Last year, Connelly and his wife helped bankroll the campaign for Initiative 1515, an anti-trans bathroom law that failed to get enough signatures to make the ballot. Connelly and his wife, Angela, each donated $25,000 to the effort, according to records from the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Over the years, Connelly has also donated to state politicians in both parties, from Democrats Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Seattle City Council member Lorena González to Republican state Senator Steve O’Ban and former state Senator Pam Roach.
Beauregard and Kays, the lawyers at Connelly’s firm who are actually representing D.H., have given to campaigns too, with Beauregard backing Democrats and Kays supporting a few Republicans (O’Ban, Rob McKenna, and a small gift to Susan Hutchison when she ran for King county Executive in 2009. Hutchison is now chair of the state Republican Party).
In an interview over e-mail, Beauregard said of Connelly: "I totally disagree with my partner's politics.”
“I am SUPER pro gay rights myself,” he wrote in another e-mail. “I hope that another gay mayor, who doesn't molest children, gets elected. And our client is full on gay.”
Beauregard has worked on other child abuse cases, including a woman who alleged that a Nathan Eckstein Middle School teacher abused her when she was 12 and a group of foster children who said their abuse was ignored by the state Department of Social and Health Services.
Connelly’s office is handling the case against Murray on contingency, meaning the client will only pay the firm if they win the case and there's a financial settlement involved. In an e-mail, Beauregard told The Stranger that the founder of his firm, Connelly, had “no input” on whether he would take this case or not.
Then, Beauregard sent another e-mail:
And to add, I am an African American civil rights attorney, long time Democrat, and live in Queen Anne. I Would go to the mat to fight for gay civil rights. We have represented many, many gay clients. The idea that this is anti-gay is ridiculous.
So, why work with Connelly, a man who funds anti-trans legislation?
He is a great man, great lawyer, with political views that I do not agree with. Our law practice and our personal beliefs have nothing to do with each other. My wife and I often find ourselves rolling our eyes and the Connelly family’s political positions. But I still love them as people and as a law partner. This isn’t Washington D.C. We can work together, and have done so for 17 years since my first internship in law school. I sometimes walk into Jack’s office, and say, sarcastically, “what overly conservative position are you working on today????"
In denying the allegations today, Murray said "to be on the receiving end of such untrue allegations is very painful for me. It is painful for my husband and for those that are close to us."
Murray did not take questions from reporters, saying "this is now a legal matter. It is in the courts and that's where the questions must be addressed."