The ongoing saga regarding Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has continued at breakneck pace this week. Just today, the Mayor had an editorial published on Slog. It's long, but the issue at hand is anything but simple. However, it has made me think, and filled me with sadness, rage, and other feelings that are indescribable. As I noted last week, I believe that our city's response to the allegations will speak volumes.
One of the troubling aspects of this case is the firm involved. While Lincoln Beauregard says that he is "SUPER pro gay rights," he still actively works to make money for Jack Connelly. Of course, Mr. Connelly likes to say he is not anti-gay, but he continues to hold positions that are contrary to this statement. Running on a platform for State Senate that included opposition to marriage equality, and just last year kicking in $50,000 to repeal rules designed to treat our trans siblings with the respect they deserve, Jack Connelly is, for lack of better term, a bigot. If Mr. Beauregard is so opposed to the anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ dignity politics of Mr. Connelly, maybe he should have left awhile ago, and stopped making money for Mr. Connelly.
But he hasn't. He continues to be a rainmaker for Jack Connelly. That is not "SUPER pro gay rights." And let's be clear - there is no lack of firms out there that handle the same type of cases. Given Mr. Beauregard's history of success as a litigator, I have faith that many of these firms would gladly bring him in with open arms. He is making a choice.
And the initial attorney for D.H. made a choice. Connelly Law isn't the only shop in town that deals with sex abuse cases. Schroeter Goldmark Bender, Ressler & Tesh, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, to name a few. And, to my knowledge, none of these firms have the same history of opposition to LGBTQ civil rights as Jack Connelly does. Had this matter been handled by just about any firm other than Connelly Law Office, then I can't imagine the same type of focus being put on the attorneys (and I also would expect less of a trial by public, and more leaving information to the discovery process - but that's a separate issue altogether).
Now that that is out of the way -
Back to the Mayor's piece on the Slog. As a rule, I like to think that in a situation such as this, the "I" is less important than the "we." One would hope that the thought process goes beyond "what do I have to gain," to "how will this impact our city, and how will this impact survivors of sexual assault?" On this, Ed Murray has failed our city, and has failed survivors of sexual assault.
Regarding the accuser from 2008, Ed Murray has this to say:
"And, most importantly, law enforcement had long ago investigated and declined to prosecute."
This is used as a rationale to explain away this accuser as a liar. Yet, of the 310 out of every 1,000 rapes reported to police, only 11 get referred for prosecution. By Mr. Murray's calculation, if it isn't prosecuted, it isn't true. With this statement, he is asserting that the remaining 299 out of every 1,000 reports are false, which is not supported by data. With this statement, his assertion is that my own perpetrator's lack of prosecution because it was a "troubled teen" vs. an adult makes me a liar. This self-serving and horribly insensitive statement, regardless of the veracity of the current allegations, is shameful.
"Additionally, his extensive criminal history is very relevant. I would never suggest that those with criminal histories cannot be victims of abuse. Rather, his criminal history proves he cannot be trusted. He has been convicted of numerous crimes of dishonesty, including identity theft, fraud, false emergency reporting and forgery, in addition to numerous convictions related to robbery, theft, unlawful use of weapons, delivery of controlled substances, criminal conspiracy and even attempted kidnapping."
The second sentence in this paragraph is dwarfed by the rest. While crimes of moral turpitude must be taken into account by a trier of fact - this is how testimony is weighed, after all - this entire paragraph lends itself to an "out" for any accused whose accuser has a "checkered past."
The allegations against Mr. Murray are severe. If they are untrue, then the damage is done, and cannot be undone - and that isn't fair. And if they are true, that does not change the significant, progressive record that Mr. Murray has - hate crime legislation, anti-discrimination legislation, marriage equality, transportation packages, minimum wage, pre-school, housing affordability, inclusionary zoning, and so much more. These are real, tangible goods that will be felt for generations.
But to turn this whole situation into a forum to victim-blame and shame, and to insist that non-prosecuted means a false report, and to all but directly state that "troubled teens" are never telling the truth - this is a disservice to our community. I continue to wait to hold judgment on the underlying issue of whether or not the specific and broader allegations are true. But I will not withhold judgment at the way in which this man has responded. We deserve better.