Update: Mayor Ed Murray has announced he will resign at 5 p.m. tomorrow.
A cousin of Mayor Ed Murray who says Murray molested him in the mid-’70s rebuked Seattle’s political establishment for standing by the mayor in the face of several other accusations of abuse.
Joseph Dyer is the fifth man to accuse Murray of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s; Dyer tells The Seattle Times that Murray came to live with his family in the mid-1970s. During that time, Dyer says, Murray slept in the same room and at night would force him to have oral sex. Dyer and his mother, Maryellen Sottile, say Dyer told Sottile about the abuse after Murray moved away, but that they are coming forward now in support of other men who say Murray molested them.
Murray denied the claims, calling them “bizarre beyond belief” and suggesting that they stem from a family schism that dates back to a dispute over “a common-law marriage between his sister and Sottile’s brother,” in the words of the Times.
In a signed declaration, Dyer calls out Seattle officials who have stymied efforts to force Murray to resign. “From the news reports, and my attorneys, it is my understanding that Seattle’s elected leaders, such as Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, former mayors, and others, have spoken in favor of Murray remaining in power. I learned that the leading mayoral candidate, Jenny Durkan, accepted Murray’s endorsement and was unwilling to expressly call for his resignation. For a childhood sex-abuse victim, this is very damaging,” Dyer wrote.
In July, after the Times revealed new documents showing an Oregon social worker found accusations against Murray to be credible, Councilmember M. Lorena González called for Murray to resign, or if he didn’t, for the Council to remove him. However, the Council needs a supermajority to remove a mayor, and it quickly became clear that González did not have the votes to remove Murray; specifically, Bagshaw, Council president Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Tim Burgess, and Councilmember Debora Juarez all spoke against the Council moving to remove Murray.
“The allegations in the newspaper yesterday are 30 years old,” Bagshaw said after González broached the subject of impeachment. “I hope we can avoid grandstanding on this … At this point, I would like to give the mayor some space to work through this.”
“It’s been my impression that the mayor is showing up for his job every day,” said Harrell. “The mayor is entitled to a hearing, due process, an attorney, and we would be in a situation to make factual and legal determinations of something that occurred 33 years ago and in another state—which is a tall drink of water, by the way.”
A week later, with removal efforts at a standstill, four former mayors also spoke up in favor of Murray. “We firmly believe Mayor Murray should continue to lead the city through the remainder of his term,” read a letter co-signed by former Seattle mayors Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice, and Greg Nickels. “A transition merely months before electing a new mayor would be messy and time-consuming, and would present serious challenges to the day-to-day operations of the city.”
Durkan has also been equivocal about the abuse allegations. When she appeared with Murray to accept his endorsement in late June, she told reporters that the accusations are best vetted in a court of law, and pointed to the fact that the lawsuit against Murray has been dropped as a suggestion that voters are ready to move on.
However, following Tuesday’s revelations, Durkan did join calls for Murray to step down. “It’s clear that it is in everyone’s best interest for him to resign,” she said in a statement provided to the Times.
Dyer, in his declaration, decried people framing calls for resignation as irresponsible grandstanding. “Speaking out confidently in favor of removing Murray from is office is not ‘grandstanding’—it is the right thing to do,” he writes.
Past reporting by Casey Jaywork contributed to this report.