To say this has been a difficult week in Seattle would be an understatement. It only worsened the afternoon of April 6, when the city was alerted of a lawsuit against our Mayor, alleging he engaged in rape of a child in the 80's. The facts alleged in the Complaint paint a very troubling picture, and the additional allegations discussed in the Seattle Times article...it is nothing shy of shocking.
It isn't unknown that there is a power structure at play in the LGBTQ community, particularly among white men. Those with power and money have been known to exert it over those without - much like what we see with straight men in power lording over women. The fact remains that men in power can abuse that power, and abuse people in the process.
Throughout my own campaign in 2015, I endured - and at times was advised to endure (for the purposes of raising money) - unwanted touching and attempts to engage in sexual activity with men who I didn't know, but whom felt their superiority over a younger LGBTQ male without wealth and without office or grandeur. When I am asked for advice on being a candidate from young LGBTQ men who are in similar situations, I am always sure to warn them.
What I can say: Ed Murray has never been part of that group in my experience in local politics. He has a lifetime of championing LGBTQ rights, and hearing such accusations against a civil rights hero is distressing. That they are being done through a firm whose owner, John Connelly, and wife donated $50,000 to Just Want Privacy, because Mr. Connelly wants to expand his discriminatory beliefs across the state, makes it even worse.
I can only draw from my own experiences. During my years at Ressler & Tesh, I worked on many cases on behalf of children abused by adults. The fact patterns are horrific, and a running theme in the abuse - physical, sexual, emotional - was other adults flippantly dismissing what was happening to these kids. So the abuse was simply prolonged. As noted in my #Trauma piece (citing information from RAINN), sexual assault and rape is a very under-reported crime. The infliction of additional hurt from dismissal of facts, and chastising of victims, leads more victims to refuse to report, for fear of making their own suffering worse.
In the instant case, D. H. was clearly the victim of sexual assault. Being a homeless teenager in the throes of addiction, whose parents were also in the throes of addiction, he relied on selling himself for $10-20 in order to survive. This culmination of failures in our mental health and housing systems that continues today failed this man. This man has bottled up shame and self-doubt for a lifetime, and in recovery from addiction, and working to make his life less shitty, he is coming forward with his story.
That the Mayor, his team, and his supporters are rushing to blame D. H., or say his motives are political, or question why he didn't come forward sooner - that is being complicit in the ongoing pain this man already feels. Question 7 in the facts of the complaint simply requests that Ed admit or deny whether he has ever paid for sex with an underage boy while he was an adult, or if he has ever engaged in unlawful sexual relations with a minor while he was an adult. That is a simple question. Ed can defend against these allegations without turning the tables and re-victimizing a man who clearly has had suffering in his life. If Ed did not commit these acts, he most assuredly deserves the opportunity to defend himself based on the facts.
This is a tough situation, to say the least. Now is not the time for political haymaking, and it is not the time to drag a survivor through the mud. The facts alleged in the Complaint make me sad. And if they are true, they make me furious. They are a reminder of the systems that are broken, and continue to need fixing. A reminder of the power structure of powerful men taking advantage of those without power. A reminder that in the wealthiest country in the world, we continue to harm those most vulnerable.
Now we have to watch our response as a community. It will be telling.