SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, has resigned after a fifth accusation that he'd sexually abused children decades ago. This allegation comes from the mayor's younger, who says that Murray molested him as a teenager. Ed Murray insists he's innocent but said he resigned because, quote, "it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our city government to conduct the public's business."
Lewis Kamb has reported this story since April, when one of the mayor's accusers filed a lawsuit. He joins us on the line from Seattle. Mr. Kamb, thanks for being with us.
LEWIS KAMB: Glad to be with you, Scott. Thanks.
SIMON: And what are the accusations against Ed Murray?
KAMB: Well, the accusations are that 5 men now - and middle-aged men - have claimed that, decades ago, as teenagers, they were all sexually abused by Ed Murray. And this is a scandal that kind of, like you said, gradually built since April, when a man named Delvonn Heckard filed a lawsuit accusing Mayor Murray of repeatedly raping him back in the 1980s when he was living on the streets of Seattle as a drug-addicted teen.
SIMON: Now, apparently, two of Mayor Murray's accusers contacted reporters, and for that matter, Washington state lawmakers, about a decade ago when Mr. Murray was in the state Senate. Why the 10-year delay between accusations and reporting them?
KAMB: Yeah, right. So two men came forward back then in 2008. They had attempted to bring a lawsuit that kind of failed due to statute of limitations issues. And after that, one of - the most vocal of them, a man named Jeff Simpson, who was Murray's former foster son, started calling up these reporters, lawmakers, contending that he had raised these claims about Murray to authorities in Oregon back in the early '80s and that an investigation was being conducted then.
But when reporters started looking into it at the time, they couldn't find anything to substantiate those claims. Murray, of course, adamantly denied it. And his lawyers had told our reporters that these accusations had previously been debunked. So when Simpson and the other accuser - they also had very serious criminal records, which Murray's team was quick to point out. Murray was suggesting these men were simply part of a plot hatched by his political foes.
SIMON: I guess for five months, the mayor has been under some pressure to resign. Why did that take so long?
KAMB: Well that's a good question. It's the question people here seem to be grappling with, obviously, now. Until the latest allegation, Murray had retained a lot of support from most of the sitting city council members here at least to finish out his term. His supporters essentially said that the four previous allegations weren't enough because they were never proven. And these alleged incidents occurred decades ago - and that Murray had never been tried or convicted in a court of law.
And then, of course, Murray himself was a very popular political figure here in Seattle leading up to the scandal. He was someone - he was viewed as a champion of gay rights and other key liberal issues. He had built up a lot of political capital and many allies. He had many allies and was considered a shoe-in to win re-election.
And the other part was, I think, Murray announced in May after the scandal broke that he would end his re-election bid and ride out the rest of his term and then retire. Some people said this was punishment enough for what appeared to be some unproven allegations. But on the other hand, as this scandal grew, and more and more accusers and details emerged, more and more people started jumping ship and calling for his resignation to go.
SIMON: Lewis Kamb is a reporter for The Seattle Times. Thanks so very much for speaking with us, Mr. Kamb.
KAMB: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF NIKLAS AMAN'S "SEND RECEIVE")
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