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Seattle Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuit against Former Mayor
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Ed Murray

Summary: A lawsuit against former Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle for sexual abuse has been settled by the city.

A Pacific Northwest Washington city has settled a civil lawsuit brought against its former mayor. Seattle will pay Delvonn Heckard $150,000 to end a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse claims at the hands of former Mayor Ed Murray.

  
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Heckard’s lawsuit, in addition to accusations from others, ended the political career of Murray, resulting in his resignation in September and is something the city likely wants to move on from. City Attorney Pete Holmes announced the settlement late Saturday.

Murray was accused of raping and molesting Heckard when he was a teenager. Heckard also blamed the city for allowing the Democratic Mayor to abuse his power by slandering Heckard and others when they made their allegations public. Murray denies the allegations.

Holmes said, “With this settlement, the city takes an important step in putting this sad chapter behind us, limiting litigation expenses and allowing Mr. Heckard to move forward with his life.” The newly elected Mayor Jenny Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, reiterated those sentiments, “As someone who has represented victims of sexual assault, I know this has caused a lot of pain and trauma for Mr. Heckard as well as many survivors.”

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Heckard’s attorney Lincoln Beauregard explained that the case was never about getting money but righting the wrong.

Murray still denies the allegations but is glad the case can come to a close, calling it a “painful experience we have all undergone.” Murray added in a statement, “The lawsuit was painful for me, my husband, my family and my former staff because the allegations were untrue. I did not molest or have any sexual contact with the plaintiff. I was prepared to defend myself in court, as I have been doing at my own expense, but wholeheartedly agree with the city’s decision to pay $150,000 to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation.”



At first Murray argued that the allegation from Heckard was an anti-gay conspiracy but two more men came forward to claim that Murray had sexually abused them in the 1980s when they were teenagers in Portland. Murray still denied the allegations. A fourth man came forward to claim Murray paid him for sex when he was a teenager and then a fifth man, Murray’s younger cousin, came forward to allege that Murray molested him in the 70s.

People criticized Murray for how he handled the allegations, demanding his resignation. Murray said Saturday, “I recognized that victims of sexual abuse have a right to be heard and I apologize if, in my effort to defend myself, I made any statements that were interpreted as an attempt to ‘blame the victim’ or were in any way insensitive to victims of sexual abuse and assault.”

Murray has been in public office for 22 years, 18 of which as a state lawmaker.

The lawyers involved in bringing the lawsuit, including Julie Keys and Lawand Anderson, plan on donating their attorneys’ fees to sexual assault recovery organizations. Beauregard is going to donate $25,000 to the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. Anderson is giving $12,500 to the Harborview Sexual Assault and Trauma Unity and another $12,500 to the Silent Task Force.

Do you think Murray should have to pay the settlement or is city responsible for putting him into power? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about sexual assault claims, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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