By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned on Tuesday after months of accusations that he committed child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.
Murray still denies any wrongdoing but his decision to resign effective from 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday, likely ends the political career of Seattle’s first openly gay mayor, a member of the Democratic party who championed the state’s same-sex marriage law and has been an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump.
“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,” Murray, 62, said in a written statement.
“To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation,” Murray said.
A spokesman said the mayor, who also served nearly two decades in the Washington state legislature, would not take questions from reporters.
Murray said Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell would take his place as mayor, at least temporarily, and “will decide in the following five days whether he will fill out the remainder of my term.”
In April, a 46-year-old man sued Murray, claiming Murray paid the man for sex with him and other boys when he was a homeless, drug-addicted teenager in the 1980s, though the lawsuit was later dropped.
The Seattle Times newspaper reported at the time that two other men had previously accused Murray of abusing them when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
In July, the paper reported that a child welfare report filed with the state of Oregon said Murray sexually abused his teenage foster son in the 1980s.
The mayor has vehemently denied all of those accusations, at times suggesting that they were politically motivated, and refused repeated calls to step down, but in May said he would not seek re-election.
His resignation announcement came hours after a younger cousin, Joseph Dyer, told the Seattle Times in a story published on Tuesday that Murray molested him repeatedly when he was a teenager in the 1970s.
Dyer said that Murray was also accused of abusing a boy at the Catholic group home where he worked, but was not prosecuted after agreeing to leave town.
Murray denied those allegations, blaming them on a “family rift.”
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting and writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Peter Cooney)