Joseph Dyer, a younger cousin of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, said Murray molested him in the 1970s in New York. “I have had enough,” Dyer said. “Something has got to be done.” Hours after Dyer’s accusation was made public, Murray resigned, but he denied abusing Dyer.
A younger cousin of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday became the fifth man to publicly accuse the mayor of sexual abuse, saying Murray repeatedly molested him as a teenager in the 1970s.
Murray announced his resignation hours after the new allegation surfaced.
Joseph Dyer, 54, a dialysis technician and Air Force veteran, says he was 13 when Murray forced him into sex for about a year while the two shared a bedroom in Dyer’s mother’s home in the Long Island town of Medford, New York.
“There would be times when I would fake sleeping because I didn’t want him touching me,” Dyer, a married father who now lives in another state, recalled during an interview with The Seattle Times.
“And that’s when he would molest me. And my mother would be right there in the house, she’d be in the living room … watching TV, at that time it was probably “M*A*S*H.” And my sisters would be in their rooms, sleeping. And I would be in my room, and he would be in there, molesting me.”
Before announcing that he would leave office, Murray on Tuesday denied Dyer’s allegation. He said he lived with his cousin, Maryellen Sottile, and her children in New York but did not abuse Dyer. He said there has been a rift in the family for years.
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“I did not sexually abuse any of her children,” Murray said. “There’s a larger backstory between the Murrays and the Sottiles …
“There’s been numerous fights between our two families for many years, and much ugliness. I guess they see me down and out, and they want to finish me off.”
Two of Murray’s sisters also came to his defense, saying the allegation, known among relatives for years, is the result of Sottile’s hatred of the Murray side of the family.
According to Dyer, the molestation stopped only after a boy in a Catholic group home where Murray worked accused Murray of abuse. His uncle, Dyer said, negotiated to get group-home officials not to pursue charges as long as Murray left. After that, Murray left town, and Dyer said he never saw or spoke to his cousin again.
“I have had no connection with that man — I don’t want any connection with that man whatsoever. I look at him and I get violently ill,” Dyer said.
An official for the group home, which is still operating, confirmed that an Edward Murray worked there from 1975 to 1976, but had no records saying why he left.
Murray said he didn’t abuse any children at the group home and left in good standing to attend college in Portland.
Dyer’s mother — Murray’s first cousin — said her son came to her several months after Murray moved out to say he had been abused.
“It’s a painful thing for a parent to go through because I wanted to protect all my children,” said Maryellen Sottile, 76. “And here this man came into my home, and he did these terrible things to my son.”
Dyer and his mother said they are speaking out now after learning recently of the other men who have accused Murray — and because they’re outraged by Murray’s denials.
Dyer is the fifth man to publicly accuse Murray since April.
Murray, 62, a former Democratic state legislator, has repeatedly denied that he sexually abused anyone, contending the accusations are part of a political takedown targeting him for his progressive politics and record as a gay-rights champion.
He announced in May he would end his re-election bid and leave politics when his term expired at year’s end. He had refused to resign sooner, despite pressure from some mayoral candidates, the city’s Human Rights Commission, LGBTQ Commission and two City Council members, among others.
Murray’s resignation takes effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“I have had enough”
Murray’s other accusers — four men with criminal pasts and drug histories — all claim Murray abused them decades ago, when each was a troubled teenager.
Jeff Simpson says he was 13 when Murray began abusing him, after Murray was his counselor at a Portland children’s center. The abuse continued, Simpson said, when he lived with Murray as his foster son for about a year, with Murray sometimes paying him for sex.
Simpson, 49, reported the alleged abuse in 1984, after being removed from Murray’s home.
Murray was not criminally charged, but an Oregon Child Protective Services’ investigator found Murray had sexually abused Simpson. That prompted Oregon child-welfare officials to conclude Murray should never again be a foster parent.
Lloyd Anderson, 52, another man who met Murray in Portland as a boy, has backed Simpson’s allegations, and said Murray also paid him for sex when Anderson was a teenager.
Their allegations surfaced in April, when Delvonn Heckard, 46, of Kent, filed a lawsuit saying Murray “raped and molested” him in the 1980s when Heckard was a drug-addicted teen. He later withdrew the lawsuit but has filed a claim for damages against the city of Seattle.
A friend of Heckard’s, Maurice Lavon Jones, 44, of Seattle, also claimed Murray paid him for sex when he was a crack-addicted teenage prostitute living on the streets in the 1980s.
Murray has denied all of their accusations.
Unlike the other men, Dyer — now studying to be a nurse — doesn’t appear to have any criminal record and says he has never used drugs. Murray has used other accusers’ pasts to attempt to discredit them.
Dyer’s mother, Sottile, is Murray’s first cousin (her mother and Murray’s mother, Anna Murray, were sisters). In a separate interview, Sottile, a retired postal worker living in North Carolina, corroborated her son’s account of how he told her what had happened to him in their New York home.
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Over the years, Sottile said, she heard bits and pieces about Murray’s political career, from his days as a Washington state legislator to his election in 2013 as Seattle’s mayor.
But she said she didn’t know about the recent allegations until a few weeks ago, when her sister contacted her after coming across news reports online. Sottile, in turn, contacted Dyer, who started reading the stories, too.
Dyer said he got angry watching video of Murray appearing before the media to deny some of the other men’s allegations. Dyer said that led him to contact Seattle lawyer Lincoln Beauregard, who was listed in the news accounts as representing Heckard.
Dyer provided a signed declaration detailing his allegation against Murray to Beauregard.
The primary motivation for coming forward, Dyer said, is closure.
“I didn’t know about any of these other people. I didn’t know about this other gentleman that Mr. Beauregard is representing. I knew about none of that,” Dyer said. “Because I saw … clips of (Murray) denying what he did, that pissed me off to the point where I am like, ‘That’s it. I have had enough.’ I have been carrying this around for 40-some years. Something has got to be done.”
Murray and his siblings went to live with relatives in New York in 1975 after their mother died, Dyer and Sottile said.
A newspaper obituary from the time shows 53-year-old Anna M. Murray died in Olympia in October 1974. It lists seven children, including son Edward, then living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, among her survivors.
“We felt bad for the whole family because their mother had died,” recalled Sottile, whose mother, Helen, is named in the obituary as Anna Murray’s sister. “And one by one, they came and stayed with us for a while, every one of them.”
Once in New York, the Murray siblings went to live with various relatives.
Murray lived at Sottile’s house, a three-bedroom rental on Redpine Drive, in Medford, she recalled. Sottile, then a divorced mother of four, said she took the smallest bedroom, while her three daughters shared the master bedroom.
Murray, in his early 20s, shared the third bedroom with Dyer, then 13. Dyer said he and Murray slept in a trundle bed — a bed with a second mattress stored under it that can be pulled out.
Murray worked for a while at a tire store, Dyer recalled, before getting a job at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Little Flower group home for children in Wading River, about 16 miles away from their house.
Sottile said she drove Murray to work every day, and Dyer said Murray sometimes brought him along.
“I remember at one point he had a group of small children that was called the ‘Angel Cottage,’ ” Dyer said. “ … I would help him with the kids.”
Dyer said his father had abandoned the family and he was looking for a father figure. Murray befriended him, Dyer said, talking about their shared Irish heritage, even showing him a rubber bullet he’d picked up in Northern Ireland, where Murray had lived while working for a Catholic group helping children.
Dyer’s mother ran a strict household, he said; his bedtime was 8 p.m. Murray typically went to bed an hour later. On some nights, Dyer said, Murray forced him to have oral sex.
“I felt it was wrong and I felt dirty,” Dyer said, but, “he told me it would be OK and it would be our secret and not to tell anybody.”
Dyer said it went on until Murray was accused of abusing a boy at the Little Flower group home.
Dyer and Sottile said they didn’t know details of the accusations at the group home. At the time, Sottile said she and other family members thought Murray was innocent.
“We all believed people didn’t do that,” she said. “This is 40-some years ago, and you know, ‘Edward wouldn’t do that’ … There must be a problem with this child … He must not like Edward or something.”
Several months later, after Murray had moved out, Dyer told his mother he had been abused, they said.
“I immediately got a hold of a doctor, and we sent him to somebody to talk to,” Sottile recalled.
“I didn’t know what to do. You know, I’m a single parent,” she added. “I did what I thought was right. I didn’t know you could press charges or anything like that. I wish I had.”
Dyer said he resisted therapy, and mostly suppressed memories of abuse. Over the years, his sisters and other relatives became aware of what happened but kept it within the family, he said.
After that, Sottile said she and her children largely severed ties with the Murray family.
“We didn’t want to have anything to do with them anymore,” Sottile said.
Murray said the bad blood is rooted in a common-law marriage between his sister and Sottile’s brother.
He questioned the timing of the accusation and The Seattle Times’ continuing coverage.
“You’ve never been willing to portray anything but one side of the story,” he said. “But on this one, this is bizarre beyond belief.”
Aileen Policros, Murray’s younger sister, said her cousins for years have made up stories about members of her own family due to deep-seated jealousy and anger dating back decades.
“They’re liars, they’re liars,” said Policros, 57, who lives in Pennsylvania. “My brother is not a pedophile … Edward takes care of children, he does not abuse them.”
Sharon Murray Sottile, 68, Murray’s oldest sister, also of Pennsylvania, compared the accusations against her brother to The Inquisition.
“This is my cousin Maryellen jumping on board with a blood hatred,” she said. “Everything he [Murray] has ever worked for has been taken away from him.”
“It all came back”
The report noted Murray worked with children in a Catholic-sponsored program in Ireland for a year, before returning home after his mother died in 1974.
“After the funeral, he went to work again for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and was certified by New York State as a children’s counselor,” the social worker wrote, based on an interview with Murray.
Murray counseled “street kids, minority children, both Black and Puerto Rican,” the report said.
The report didn’t specify where Murray worked, noting, “he enjoyed it but burned out and felt that … he needed a change of pace,” so returned to the Pacific Northwest.
A spokeswoman for Little Flower, which was founded in 1930 and has since expanded to provide multiple services for children and families, confirmed that an Edward Murray worked at the Long Island group home from June 4, 1975, to Aug. 29, 1976. The spokeswoman said she found no records explaining why Murray left the job.
Until a few weeks ago, when Dyer said he learned of the other men’s accusations, he says he’d mostly tried to forget about Murray.
“There were long periods of time where I never thought about him or it,” Dyer said. “I was living my life.”
But after giving the signed declaration about the alleged abuse to Beauregard, Dyer said, “it just hit me.”
“That night, basically it all came back to me,” he said. “I had shivers. I was feeling nauseous. My wife — I was basically crying and I was in a ball — she was cuddling me. And I couldn’t sleep. I had the shakes. I don’t want to do that again.”
Information in this article, originally published Sept. 12, 2017, was corrected Sept. 12, 2017. A previous version of this story gave an incorrect first name for Anna Murray.