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Seattle mayor on abuse allegations: ‘I want the chance to tell my story’

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is steadfast in his innocence: “I have my integrity — that’s all I have,” he said Wednesday, defending against accusations that he paid a troubled teenage boy for sex in the 1980s.

In an interview with Q13 News at his home on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, with his husband Michael seated next to him, Murray said he is in the fight of his life to clear his name.

“If I lose, everything I have done, everything I have worked for, the most important thing to me – my integrity – it will be gone,” he said. “My life as I know it will be over at 62. I’ll be labeled an unemployable pedophile.”

Murray’s comments came the same day his accuser revealed his name publicly for the first time. Delvonn Heckard, 46, of Kent, who previously went only by the initials “D.H.” in court documents, told The Seattle Times that he has nothing to hide and wanted to release his name so the mayor could no longer deny knowing him.

“Mr. Heckard doubts Mr. Murray ever knew his last name. However, Mr. Heckard does expect Mr. Murray to recall “Delvonn” from the Capitol Hill days,” Heckard’s attorney wrote in a letter to Murray’s attorney.

Murray said Wednesday that he does not know who Heckard is, nor does his picture look familiar.

“Is it possible I met this person before? Sure, it is possible,” Murray said in a statement. “I have encountered thousands of people during my decades of public service. I cannot say for certain that I never encountered this person at some point thirty years ago, a time when I was very publicly and civically active. But Delvonn Heckard is not someone I knew. “

Heckard is not the first person to level such serious accusations against Murray.

Two other men came forward nearly a decade ago, claiming Murray had abused them as teenagers as well, according to The Seattle Times.

Murray and his legal teams have called the accusations political, a claim Murray reinforced Wednesday in his interview with Q13 News.

“What we’ve heard is that they want to take me out as mayor,” he said.

“I don’t see any other motivations other than political, because there aren’t assets here. I guess they could get my Social Security check or something.”

But is Murray’s political star really so high that three men would make up such accusations against him?

“I am a unique figure in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community,” he said. “And I think it has, over time, made us targets.”

The accusations against Murray, first brought to public attention after Heckard filed suit on April 6, came weeks before the deadline for candidates to file for the city’s mayoral race.

Just this week, two high-profile candidates have surfaced. One, former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who lost re-election to Murray in 2013. The other, Cary Moon – an activist who fought against the Highway 99 tunnel in Seattle.

In an interview with Q13 News on Tuesday, McGinn said he would focus his campaign on the issues, not on the accusations against Murray. He repeatedly declined to answer whether he thinks Murray should step aside.

Still, some wonder if Murray should drop out of the race given the cloud surrounding the accusations. Even at a press event about the city’s efforts to fill potholes, Murray was unable to escape questions about the claims of abuse.

“I am focused on doing the thing that I love the most, and that is public policy and politics. I have the best job that I have ever had in my life and I am working it day and night. I’ve done that since I was sworn in, and I will continue do it as long as the voters will let me have it,” he said.

“This is not going to distract me from the one opportunity I will get, whether it’s four years or eight years, to be the mayor of this city at this critical time.”

Asked whether he would have been better served staying silent on the accusations and focusing on city business, Murray said perhaps.

“Maybe silence would have been better and it wouldn’t have given more credence to it. But I felt like I had a story to tell. I have my integrity, that’s all I have. I have a story to tell and I want an opportunity to tell that story,” Murray said. “I might not be in this job a few months from now, come December 31. The last thing I wanted to do is to have one of these things where my husband has to sit next to me – one of these embarrassing things that we see again and again. But I want the chance to tell my story.”