Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw spoke out Friday in support of Mayor Ed Murray, who has been sued over decades-old sexual-abuse allegations.
Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw spoke out Friday in support of Mayor Ed Murray, becoming the first council member and the most prominent figure to do so in the wake of Murray being sued for alleged sexual abuse in the 1980s.
The mayor has denied the lawsuit’s allegations and similar claims made by two other men who say they knew Murray when they were growing up in Portland decades ago.
“I have not been very vocal about some of the things that we’ve all been reading about,” Bagshaw said, apparently referring to news reports on the abuse allegations against Murray, including those in the lawsuit filed last week by a 46-year-old Kent man.
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“But I want to recognize this, and I want to tell you this from my heart: We have excellent leaders in this government,” the council member said at a news conference with the mayor about affordable housing.
“We have people who are working hard to make our city the best it can be for the right reasons, to make our city a place where all of us can live. I want you to know that I have faith in this mayor. I have faith in his vision. I have faith in his commitment to making the city the best place it can be for all of us.”
The mayor took some questions about the abuse claims from reporters for the first time Friday, during the affordable-housing news conference in the Chinatown International District.
Asked for proof to support his contention that the suit has been brought for political reasons, Murray said his work on behalf of LGBTQ people now and previously as a state lawmaker has made him a target for anti-LGBTQ activists.
The mayor added, “We have a group of folks connected to a law firm who are leading an effort to undo the most important piece of work I’ve ever done in my life, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender civil rights bill, by taking the transgender out.”
The founder of a firm handling the suit against Murray, Jack Connelly, has contributed to a campaign seeking to roll back a state rule guaranteeing people access to locker rooms and bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.
Asked again about a specific connection between the lawsuit and those politics, the mayor said the media had not spent enough time investigating the allegations against him and he told reporters to look at conservative blogs for evidence.
Lincoln Beauregard, the lawyer representing the man suing Murray, has said he doesn’t share Connelly’s views on repealing transgender bathroom rules and that the plaintiff is gay. The man bringing the suit is not named in the case and is referred to only by his initials, “D.H.”
Though the mayor denies sexually abusing D.H. and the other men, he has acknowledged knowing and serving as a foster parent in Portland for one of those men, Jeff Simpson.
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Oregon records show Murray was a certified foster parent in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
An attorney for the mayor has released a friendly letter Simpson wrote to Murray in 2005. In the letter, Simpson praises Murray’s political work and signs off, “God bless you, Ed.”
Murray and Simpson have offered up different stories about what happened between them in the 1980s and in more recent years. Simpson first accused Murray in 1984 and police investigated but no criminal charges were filed.
All three of Murray’s accusers have substantial criminal histories. Their pasts also include homelessness and drug addiction.
In a guest editorial Friday in The Stranger newspaper, the mayor — without naming Simpson — says his foster son’s criminal history “proves he cannot be trusted.”
In an interview Friday, Simpson said he believes Murray targeted vulnerable people whose claims could be more easily dismissed.
“It sounds like we are all kind of alike. We all have problems. We all have nobody that would or could come to our defense,” Simpson said. “He made sure we were not credible.”
Murray’s editorial also says Simpson “attempted to take his accusation public only after he sought payment from me.”
Simpson called that “hogwash,” saying, “I’ve asked him for help several times but not in the form of money.” He said he asked Murray for assistance getting a psychiatrist or counselor.
On Monday, City Council President Bruce Harrell said he and his colleagues had “no intention of commenting on matters of pending or potential litigation.” He added, “It is in our human nature to immediately want answers, but I ask we not cast aspersions to the parties involved before we have all the facts through the legal process.”
Councilmember Kshama Sawant spoke out on her own Wednesday, not addressing the specific allegations against Murray but expressing general support for survivors of sexual abuse.