Probe NI ac­tiv­i­ties of abuse ac­cused US mayor

In­ves­ti­ga­tion de­manded into scan­dal-hit Seat­tle politi­cian in­volved in peace­line project with Belfast chil­dren

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY SUZANNE BREEN

THE PSNI was last night urged to check its records to find out if any claims were made in North­ern Ire­land against a US politi­cian at the cen­tre of a his­toric child sex abuse scan­dal.

Seat­tle Mayor Ed Mur­ray (left) quit his post yes­ter­day af­ter a fifth sex abuse al­le­ga­tion was made against him.

The 62-year-old had worked with chil­dren in a Belfast peace project at the height of the Trou­bles.

AMNESTY In­ter­na­tional is ask­ing the PSNI to ex­am­ine po­lice records to see if any al­le­ga­tions have been made here against a US politi­cian at the cen­tre of his­toric child sex abuse claims.

Seat­tle Mayor Ed Mur­ray, who re­signed yes­ter­day af­ter a fifth sex abuse al­le­ga­tion was made against him, worked with chil­dren in a peace­line project in Belfast at the height of the Trou­bles.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Belfast Tele­graph can ex­clu­sively re­veal that, in 1974, he brought a group of 30 Catholic and Protes­tant chil­dren on a fort­night’s hol­i­day to Wales.

A cousin came for­ward ear­lier this week to ac­cuse him of sex­u­ally abus­ing him in the mid1970s just af­ter he re­turned to the US from Belfast. Oth­ers who have pre­vi­ously made al­le­ga­tions in­clude Mr Mur­ray’s for­mer foster son.

With fam­ily roots re­port­edly in Co Down and in the Repub­lic, the Demo­crat was a highly re­garded Ir­ish-Amer­i­can politi­cian. He met for­mer Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Pres­i­dent Michael D Hig­gins on a visit to Ire­land in 2014.

Mr Mur­ray (62) strongly de­nies all the al­le­ga­tions of abus­ing teenage boys. He said he was re­sign­ing be­cause he did not want “per­sonal is­sues” in­ter­fer­ing with “pub­lic busi­ness”.

He worked with sev­eral chil­dren’s groups in the US be­fore he en­tered politics. The claims against him date from the mid1970s to mid-1980s.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s North­ern Ire­land pro­gramme di­rec­tor Pa­trick Cor­ri­gan last night said the al­le­ga­tions raised se­ri­ous con­cerns. He called on the PSNI and Mr Mur­ray’s for­mer em­ployer here to ex­am­ine their records to see if any com­plaints were ever made about him.

“As things stand, Mr Mur­ray has not been found guilty of any charges. How­ever, the fact that the lat­est al­le­ga­tions of child abuse date from a pe­riod just af­ter Mr Mur­ray re­turned from Belfast, where he was ap­par­ently work­ing with chil­dren, will raise con­cerns about his time in North­ern Ire­land,” Mr Cor­ri­gan said.

“The or­gan­i­sa­tion which em­ployed Mr Mur­ray in Belfast should check their records and pro­vide full dis­clo­sure of his time here. They should also ad­vise the PSNI of whether any al­le­ga­tions were made against him at the time.”

Mr Cor­ri­gan said it was im­por­tant “to es­tab­lish ac­cu­rate dates and de­tails of his time in Belfast so that any po­ten­tial vic­tims from this pe­riod have a chance to come for­ward to po­lice and to seek any sup­port they may re­quire”.

He urged the PSNI to check po­lice records to es­tab­lish if there were any out­stand­ing al­le­ga­tions from that time.

“Ob­vi­ously, if there are rea­sons to sus­pect crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, the PSNI should launch their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mean­while, Mr Mur­ray must be con­sid­ered in­no­cent un­til and un­less a court of law finds dif­fer­ently,” he said.

The res­ig­na­tion of Mr Mur­ray, Seat­tle’s first openly gay mayor, came into ef­fect at 5pm yes­ter­day.

“While the al­le­ga­tions against me are not true, it is im­por­tant that my per­sonal is­sues do not af­fect the abil­ity of our City govern­ment to con­duct the pub­lic’s busi­ness. It is best for the city if I step aside,” he said.

In me­dia in­ter­views af­ter be­com­ing mayor in 2014 he re­ferred to his Ir­ish roots, say­ing: “If I hadn’t en­tered politics, I might have lived in Ire­land.”

He spoke of work­ing as a peace­line vol­un­teer and also help­ing ar­range a Seat­tle-Lis­burn sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ship years later. In an in­ter­view dur­ing his visit to the Repub­lic in 2014, he said: “I first came to Ire­land 40 years ago in 1974 when I grad­u­ated from high school. I was work­ing in a vol­un­teer pro­gramme in Belfast.

“I was re­ally skinny and I had a lot of thick, red hair and I was ar­rested on a pretty reg­u­lar ba­sis by the Bri­tish Army just be­cause …. I looked ‘Ir­ish’ or some­thing.”

A US doc­u­ment ob­tained by the Belfast Tele­graph out­lines some of Mr Mur­ray’s work in North­ern Ire­land but doesn’t name the or­gan­i­sa­tion em­ploy­ing him.

“He went to Ire­land for one year work­ing on the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion pro­gram spon­sored by Amer­i­can and Dutch Catholic groups,” it states.

“This pro­gram was youth ori­ented, at­tempts to get Catholic and Protes­tant to­gether.”

Ref­er­ence is made to Mr Mur­ray tak­ing 30 chil­dren on a fort­night’s hol­i­day to Wales. The Amer­i­can re­turned to the US fol­low­ing the death of his mother in late 1974.

In 1975, he lived with rel­a­tives in New York where his younger cousin Joseph Dyer now says Mr Mur­ray sex­u­ally abused him. It is al­leged that the abuse took place while the older man shared a bed­room with the 13-year-old.

Mr Dyer claimed that his cousin had showed him a rub­ber bul­let he’d picked up in North­ern Ire­land.

Mr Mur­ray has de­nied the sex abuse al­le­ga­tion by his younger cousin.

He said there had been bit­ter fight­ing be­tween the two fam­i­lies for many years and “I guess they see me down and out, and they want to fin­ish me off ”.

In 1984, Mr Mur­ray’s foster son Jeff Simp­son al­leged he had abused him from the age of 13 in Port­land, Ore­gan, where Mr Mur­ray — then a para­le­gal — had worked as a coun­sel­lor to trou­bled chil­dren.

The Seat­tle Times, which has re­ported ex­ten­sively on the al­le­ga­tions against Mr Mur­ray, re­vealed that the teenager, a Port­land de­tec­tive and an Ore­gan Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices case worker had all tes­ti­fied be­fore a grand jury.

Crim­i­nal charges were never brought. Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained by the news­pa­per, a pros­e­cu­tor de­cided not to go ahead with the case due to the teenager’s trou­bled per­son­al­ity.

But she added: “This is no way means that the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice has de­cided that Jeff ’s al­le­ga­tions are not true.”

Three other men have pub­licly ac­cused Mur­ray of sex­u­ally abus­ing them when they were teenagers. The politi­cian has at­tacked their cred­i­bil­ity and sug­gested that the claims are po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Ed Mur­ray has re­signed as Seat­tle Mayor

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