Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s attacks on his accusers’ histories sends a terrible message to sexual-abuse victims, writes columnist Jonathan Martin.
In the early 1990s, when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was working to spotlight hate crimes against LGBT people, he noted that reporting incidents put victims’ jobs and housing in jeopardy. “The system tends to blame the victim,” Murray said.
Murray now is the system. Faced with the scandal of his career, he has done just what he condemned back then.
He has rebutted a trio of accusations that he paid underage boys for sex with attacks on the accusers’ backgrounds. He emphasized the “troubled” history of Delvonn Heckard, who has sued Murray, and portrayed him as a tool of a shadowy anti-gay conspiracy.
In an Op-Ed in The Stranger, Murray said of another accuser, Jeff Simpson, that his “criminal history proves he cannot be trusted” — and then listed it in detail. Murray even casually mentioned at a City Hall news conference that Simpson may have been molested as a child — a statement made to sow mistrust, not sympathy.
Murray has a right to say the men — emerging publicly three decades after the alleged sex crimes — are not telling the truth. But he risks crossing a line for his progressive base by turning to character assassination.
“(Heckard) and the other two have had horribly traumatic lives,” said Michael Maddux. “The ferocity at which they’re attacking them and not standing up for them is sickening.”
Maddux was once a Murray supporter. He is a gay-rights advocate, donated to Murray’s campaign and was heavily involved in the Murray-backed parks- and housing-levy campaigns. Maddux reserves judgment on the facts: “It does not seem in character from the Ed Murray we know now.”
But Maddux, who has worked as a paralegal on sexual-abuse cases, was aghast that Murray’s Op-Ed cited a lack of…