Seat­tle mayor abused teen, 1984 file says

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

SEAT­TLE — An Ore­gon child-wel­fare in­ves­ti­ga­tor con­cluded in the 1980s that Ed Murray, Seat­tle’s mayor, had sex­u­ally abused his foster son, lead­ing state of­fi­cials to con­clude that “un­der no cir­cum­stances” should Murray serve as a foster par­ent in the fu­ture.

The find­ings were re­ported Sunday by the The Seat­tle Times, af­ter Ore­gon’s Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices in April un­earthed old records — pre­vi­ously thought to have been de­stroyed — at the news­pa­per’s re­quest. The agency ini­tially with­held many of the doc­u­ments, but it re­leased them to the Times this month af­ter it ap­pealed, agree­ing that it was in the public in­ter­est to do so.

“In the pro­fes­sional judge­ment of this case­worker who has in­ter­viewed nu­mer­ous chil­dren of all ages and of all lev­els of emo­tional dis­tur­bance re­gard­ing sex­ual abuse, Jeff Simp­son has been sex­u­ally abused by Ed­ward Murray,” Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices case­worker Judy But­ler wrote in the May 1984 as­sess­ment.

Simp­son, Murray’s for­mer foster son, is one of four men who pub­licly ac­cused him this spring of sex­u­ally abus­ing them long ago. Murray adamantly de­nies the al­le­ga­tions, but he de­clined to seek re-elec­tion.

In a writ­ten re­sponse Sunday, Murray said the child-wel­fare in­ves­ti­ga­tor never in­ter­viewed him and that nei­ther he nor his at­tor­ney was in­formed of the find­ings at the time. He said the al­le­ga­tions were fully in­ves­ti­gated and pros­e­cu­tors never brought charges.

“That she be­lieved Jeff’s claims at the time and ad­vo­cated on his be­half is painful to see, but does not change the fact that, based on the to­tal­ity of the ev­i­dence that was col­lected, the District At­tor­ney de­clined to file charges,” Murray wrote.

Still, the Times re­ported, the newly dis­closed records re­veal that a Mult­nomah County pros­e­cu­tor de­clined to pur­sue charges be­cause of Simp­son’s trou­bled per­son­al­ity, not be­cause she thought he was ly­ing.

“It was Jeff’s emo­tional in­sta­bil­ity, his­tory of ma­nip­u­la­tive be­hav­ior and the fact that he has again run away and made him­self un­avail­able that forced my de­ci­sion,” Deputy District At­tor­ney Mary Tom­lin­son wrote.

She added: “We could not be sure of meet­ing the high bur­den of proof in a crim­i­nal case — of proof be­yond a rea­son­able doubt and to a moral cer­tainty. How­ever, this in no way means that the District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice has de­cided Jeff’s al­le­ga­tions are not true.”

Simp­son, now 49, had been aban­doned as an in­fant. He lived un­der Murray’s care for nearly a year and a half as a teenager, af­ter meet­ing him when Murray coun­seled him at a Port­land cen­ter for trou­bled teens in the late 1970s.

Simp­son said the abuse be­gan in 1980, when he was 13 and spend­ing a week­end with Murray. The abuse con­tin­ued af­ter Murray be­came his foster fa­ther and lasted un­til he left Murray’s care at age 16, Simp­son said. At times, Murray paid Simp­son $10 or gave him drugs for sex, he said.

He con­sid­ered su­ing Murray in 2008, but his lawyer de­clined to pur­sue the case over a statute of lim­i­ta­tions is­sue. By then, Murray was a Washington state sen­a­tor, Demo­cratic power bro­ker and gay-rights ad­vo­cate. He was elected mayor in 2013.

Simp­son told the Times that he was happy the Ore­gon doc­u­ments backed his claims.

“Wow, wow. Thank you, Je­sus,” he said.

Simp­son added that he and his at­tor­ney had tried to find such doc­u­ments, but they were told that none ex­isted.

The Times first pub­lished de­tails about Simp­son’s claims in April when a Kent man, Delvonn Heckard, made sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions against Murray in a sex­ual-abuse law­suit. Heckard with­drew his law­suit in June, say­ing he in­tends to re­file af­ter Murray leaves of­fice.

In May, Murray’s per­sonal spokesman, Jeff Read­ing, pro­vided the Times with copies of sev­eral state­ments from peo­ple who sup­ported Murray when Simp­son first made his al­le­ga­tions in 1984.

Read­ing said he was pro­vid­ing the in­for­ma­tion be­cause “there is an ex­ist­ing body of ev­i­dence that re­buts and con­tra­dicts what Jeff has said.”

One was from a coun­selor who had worked with Simp­son at Murray’s re­quest, and said he “did not be­lieve that al­le­ga­tion at the time, and found it to be com­pletely ir­ra­tional.”

Some of the same state­ments were in­cluded in the state foster records re­leased this month. The in­ves­ti­ga­tor con­sid­ered them be­fore mak­ing her find­ing, the news­pa­per re­ported.

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