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  • Murray FILE - This June 14, 2017 file photo Seattle Mayor Ed Murray takes a question at a news conference at City Hall in Seattle. Murray announced his resignation, Tuesday, Sept. 12 after a fifth man came forward and accused him of sexual abuse decades ago. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:00 am

Seattle mayor resigns after latest sex-abuse claim

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray built his standing in the gay community and in Washington state politics through a decades-long push for bias protections, domestic partnerships and finally, marriage equality.

But for some supporters, his standing eroded this year when he attacked the backgrounds of men who accused him of sexually abusing them in the 1970s and 1980s when they were teens.

By the time a fifth accuser – Murray's cousin – came forward this week, many were relieved when he announced he would resign as of late Wednesday afternoon.

“We think it definitely should have happened sooner,” Julia Ricciardi, co-chair of the city's LGBTQ Commission, calling his resignation “an opportunity for us to put this behind as an issue.”

The departure of Murray, a 62-year-old Democrat and the state's most prominent gay politician, brings an ignoble end to a 22-year career in public office, including 18 as a state lawmaker.

Though he vehemently denied the accusations and previously refused to step down, he announced his resignation within hours of a Seattle Times report Tuesday detailing his cousin's account.

Before the allegations, Murray was expected to win re-election handily. But by May, he had announced he wouldn't run again, though he had hoped to finish out his term at the end of the year.

As the claims mounted, his criticism of the men cost him support.

In April, when one accuser filed a lawsuit alleging that Murray abused him after meeting him on a city bus, Murray criticized the Seattle Times for printing what he described as unfounded and false accusations.

He attacked a different accuser, his former foster son, in an opinion piece the same month, writing that “his criminal history proves he cannot be trusted” and detailing the man's criminal record.

The latest abuse allegations emerged this week from Joseph Dyer, the son of Murray's first cousin Maryellen Sottile. Dyer told the Seattle Times in a story Tuesday that he was infuriated with Murray's attacks of the men accusing him, and that's what prompted him to speak out.

Dyer said he was 13 and Murray was in his early 20s when Murray came to live with Dyer's family in Medford, New York, in 1975. The two shared a bedroom, and Murray repeatedly molested him over the course of a year, Dyer said.

Dyer said the molestation stopped only after Murray was accused of abuse by a boy in a Catholic group home where Murray worked. Dyer told the newspaper his uncle persuaded the group home not to pursue charges as long as Murray left.