The Seattle mayor spoke with reporters a day after the man suing him over allegations of child sexual abuse revealed his name.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray fielded questions from reporters Wednesday about a lawsuit that accuses him of sexually abusing a teenager three decades ago.
Murray has been asked at public appearances recently about the allegations in the lawsuit and similar claims made by two other men. He’s denied all of them.
But the mayor’s remarks after an afternoon news conference related to tree cutting in a city greenbelt were his first to reporters since his accuser in the lawsuit went public Tuesday night with his full name.
Delvonn Heckard, previously identified in the lawsuit only by his initials, says Murray raped and molested him when he was a teenaged crack addict in the late 1980s.
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The mayor said he’d seen a photo of Heckard on Wednesday and didn’t recognize the man.
“I’ve seen a photo and currently, no. He looks like somebody maybe I could have met. But then again, you know, being an activist in the ’80s, being out and dating in the ’80s, being an elected official in the ’90s, we’re talking about a 30-year period,” Murray said.
“When I can give you a definitive answer, I’ll give you a definitive answer. I heard this morning. I haven’t had a chance to talk to my lawyer about the name or the photo. But as we find out more information, I will share it with you.”
Asked to explain his use of the word, “currently,” the mayor said the photo he had seen had been grainy.
“From that picture, I don’t recognize him,” Murray said.
Earlier Wednesday, the mayor released a written statement through a personal spokesman.
“I can state categorically that I have never had a sexual relationship with this individual, Delvonn Heckard, of any kind or at any time,” the statement said.
“I have never paid for sex, and I have never had sex with a minor. Heckard’s claims about my anatomy were proved medically false last week. His accusations are not true.”
The statement added: “Is it possible I met this person before? Sure, it is possible. I have encountered thousands of people during my decades of public service. I cannot say for certain that I never encountered this person at some point thirty years ago, a time when I was very publicly and civically active. But Delvonn Heckard is not someone I knew.”
The mayor has repeatedly suggested the abuse claims against him are politically motivated.
Asked Wednesday why Heckard and the other two men — who are not suing, but who say Murray abused them when they were growing up in Portland — would lie about their relationship with him, Murray again pointed to politics.
He said the claims have come up at times when he’s been working on important issues: a domestic-partnerships bill in the state Legislature in 2008, a marriage-equality bill in 2012 and a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order on so-called sanctuary cities this year.
“I’m not going to create a conspiracy, here, but every time … this is when these things come up,” Murray said. “They come up at a time, it seems, when certain things happen that are highly partisan and highly political.”
The mayor has vowed to remain in his job and continue to seek re-election this year. Two candidates have entered the race this week, including former Mayor Mike McGinn.
Murray said he’s campaigning as usual, attending Democratic events and holding fundraisers.
“No one has withdrawn any support of the endorsements I’ve had, either from organizations or individuals,” he said, adding, “I want to tell my story about my ability to govern this city and to govern it well.”