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caption: Jeff Simpson accused former Seattle mayor Ed Murray of sexual abuse. An Oregon CPS investigation concluded Murray had abused Simpson.
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Jeff Simpson accused former Seattle mayor Ed Murray of sexual abuse. An Oregon CPS investigation concluded Murray had abused Simpson.
Credit: THOMAS TEAL FOR THE STRANGER, LICENSED FOR KUOW

Seattle to pay Ed Murray accuser $75K to settle defamation suit

The city of Seattle says it has settled a defamation lawsuit with Jeff Simpson, one of five men who accused the former mayor of sexual abuse when they were children.

Simpson, 51, filed his lawsuit in May of this year, nearly two months after Delvonn Heckard, another of Ed Murray's accusers, died of an overdose in an Auburn motel.

Murray resigned as mayor in September 2017 after a fifth man, his cousin, accused Murray publicly of sexual abuse. That resignation came six months after Heckard filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Murray.

Simpson, a former foster son of Murray's, accused the city and Murray of using Murray's public office to slander Simpson.

Simpson's lawsuit focused on several events in which the mayor appeared, or furnished a spokesperson, to defend himself against the claims: press conferences or interviews in which Murray argued that the accusations were part of a right-wing or homophobic agenda, an op-ed in The Stranger written by the mayor, in which he argued Simpson could not be trusted because of his criminal record, as well as another press conference in which Murray stood at a publicly owned podium to announce his "vindication" when Heckard dropped his lawsuit.

Heckard re-filed his lawsuit after Murray resigned. Last December, the city settled with him for $150,000.

Simpson's lawsuit also criticized — and published text messages from — Seattle City Council members who worked to keep Murray in power after the allegations broke.

Reporters at the Seattle Times later furnished evidence that three decades ago, the state of Oregon came down on Simpson's side: In July of 2017, the Times published notes from an Oregon CPS investigation concluding that Murray had sexually abused Simpson.

Murray's lawyer, Steve Fogg, told KUOW that Murray did not pay anything toward the settlement and has not admitted any wrongdoing.

"He's never defamed Mr. Simpson," Fogg said. "He's never harmed him in any way. This is the city's money and I want to be clear, as a former CEO of the city government, I think Mr. Murray understands the business necessities of a nuisance settlement."

The city has now settled with Simpson, according to Simpson's attorney and a document filed in court. The city will pay Simpson $75,000, the Seattle City Attorney's Office told KUOW.

This is a developing story.