An Oregon child protective services investigator in 1984 determined that Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused his foster son, according to documents published by the Seattle Times today.
The documents include reports and letters from child protective services, police, a prosecutor and a foster care specialist. Together, they represent the most complete look so far into child sex abuse allegations against Murray from Jeff Simpson, a Portland man who lived under Murray's foster care in the early 1980s. Simpson is one of four men who have accused Murray of abusing them when they were teenagers. One of those men, Delvonn Heckard, filed a child sex abuse civil lawsuit in April, but dropped the case last month.
Murray, who ended his re-election campaign in May, continues to deny the allegations.
Here's a quick summary of what else we know:
Finding the child sex abuse allegations to be credible, a child protective services investigator recommended that Murray stop fostering children all together.
So did a foster care specialist, who wrote, "Under no circumstances should Mr. Murray be certified in the future."
A prosecutor declined to press charges against Murray due to concerns with meeting the burden of proof, not because she didn't believe Simpson.
Among the documents released to the Times includes a letter from a Multnomah County deputy district attorney explaining her reasons for not pursuing criminal charges against Murrary. Simpson's "emotional instability, history of manipulative behavior and the fact that he has again run away and made himself unavailable" forced deputy district attorney Mary Burns Tomilson to decline charges against Murray because she was not certain her office could prove Murray's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. "However, this in no way means that the District Attorney's Office has decided that Jeff's allegations are not true," Tomilson wrote. In a separate document, a foster care specialist wrote, "Although he was not indicted, the Protective Services department feels that the allegations are true, as does the district attorney’s office.”
In 2008, when Jeff Simpson pursued a civil case against Murray, his attorney believed the allegations but dropped the case due to a concern with the statute of limitations.
Murray maintains his innocence and says he does not see the significance of the investigator's report.
"Other than the salacious nature of it, I don’t see what the story is," he told the Times.
His lawyer, Katherine Heekin, wrote in a letter to the Times that child protective services workers are trained to be extra cautious and err on the side of believing abuse allegations. Because of that, "The Seattle Times misunderstands the significance of the documents that it obtained recently from Oregon's Child Protective Services," Heekin said.
As the Times notes, child protective services workers look for "reasonable cause" that abuse occurred, a lower standard than criminal cases.
Oregon released private details from the documents under pressure from the Times.
For some time, Oregon state officials and journalists believed that the state's Department of Human Services destroyed the child welfare file containing the investigator's assessment that Murray abused Simpson. Turns out, a switch in the state's computer system in 2008 may have caused the confusion. When state officials tracked down the records, they withheld some and heavily redacted others, citing privacy concerns. The Times responded with a letter from Simpson approving the release of the file as well as statements from Murray himself asking the media to find additional records.
The office ultimately removed redactions from some files and released additional documents after determining they were "in the public interest to protect other children and prevent anyone else from being put in a similar situation," a spokesperson told the Times.
Read more about the story behind the story here.