A man who has accused Mayor Ed Murray of sexual abuse believes hell have a better chance at winning a civil case against the mayor next year, after Murray is out of office.
A man who has accused Mayor Ed Murray of sexual abuse believes he'll have a better chance at winning a civil case against the mayor next year, after Murray is out of office. City of Seattle / The Stranger

The man who sued Mayor Ed Murray in April for alleged sexual abuse is dropping his lawsuit against the mayor, pledging to refile his case again next year.

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The Seattle Times first reported this morning that attorney Lincoln Beauregard filed a motion on behalf of Delvonn Heckard seeking to drop the case. Heckard says Murray raped and molested him in the 1980s when Murray was in his 30s and Heckard was a teen under the age of consent. According to the Times, Heckard "stands by his claims against Murray."

A civil trial for the case had been scheduled to begin next April. In the motion, Beauregard writes that Heckard does not believe he can get a fair trial because Murray "garners litigation benefits by defending this lawsuit while simultaneously sitting as the mayor" and because "Murray, his former campaign team, and his legal team, have successfully tainted the jury pool with false information about the accusers, including Mr. Heckard."

Beauregard also writes that Heckard wants to complete his counseling and recovery in December before proceeding with a trial.

Heckard was one of four men who made similar allegations against Murray. Two others, Jeff Simpson and Lloyd Anderson, were not involved in the suit. A fourth man came forward in a declaration Beauregard filed in May saying that Murray paid him for sex. Murray has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Still, Murray ended his re-election campaign in May, saying that the lawsuit would distract from important city issues. He had come under criticism for his response to the allegations, which centered on casting his accusers as untrustworthy.

A spokesperson for Murray did not immediately provide comment but I'll update this post when he does.

UPDATE, 11:20 am: On Twitter, Heckard's lawyer says his client views Murray's decision to drop out as "justice." (Beauregard confirms this is his account.)

UPDATE, 12:20 pm: When asked to elaborate on the "false information" he referenced in his motion, Beauregard said in an email: "Mayor Murray and his team lied and accused the accusers, including gay men, of being part of a right-wing conspiracy.”

UPDATE, 12:30 pm: Murray's spokesperson has not yet responded to today's news, but the mayor is scheduled to make a statement at City Hall at 3 pm.

UPDATE, 1:40: A lawyer for Murray told the Seattle Times the timing of the decision to drop the case was suspicious because it comes "only one day" before Heckard was required to provide answers to written questions in the case. In response, Beauregard sent an email to Murray's legal team and cc'ed several reporters. In that email, he accused Murray's team of lying because Heckard was not scheduled to give an in-person deposition.

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"Lincoln, your email is beneath you," Murray's lawyer Robert Sulkin shot back, clarifying that his office was not referring to a deposition, but rather, a written interrogatory, which is a standard component of the discovery process before civil cases go to trial.

"That said," Sulkin added, "with due respect, in the short life of this case, you have been twice sanctioned by the court, lost every motion brought before the court, were proven wrong on the key facts of the case, and you withdrew the case on the day before your client was due to answer written questions under oath that we believe would further establish that his accusations were false. No more needs to be said."

Continuing the email spat before reporters, Beauregard responded four minutes later: "Counsel, all you and your client had are personal attacks, and that remains the case. If you and your client go around lying about Delvonn’s motives again, he will likely tell me to re-file against your client immediately."