Joseph Dyer, a younger cousin of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, says
he wants Murray punished, alleging he repeatedly molested him in
the 1970s in New York. “I have had enough ... Something has got
to be done.” Murray denies abusing Dyer, blaming a yearslong
By Jim Brunner and Lewis Kamb
Seattle Times staff reporters
A younger cousin of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has become the fifth
man to accuse the mayor of sexual abuse, saying Murray
repeatedly molested him as a teenager in the 1970s.
Murray announced his resignation Tuesday in the wake of the new
Joseph Dyer, 54, a dialysis technician and Air Force veteran,
says he was 13 when Murray forced him into sex for about a year
while the two shared a bedroom in Dyer’s mother’s home in the
Long Island town of Medford, New York.
“There would be times when I would fake sleeping because I
didn’t want him touching me,” Dyer, a married father who now
lives in another state, recalled during an interview with The
“And that’s when he would molest me. And my mother would be
right there in the house, she’d be in the living room … watching
TV, at that time it was probably “M*A*S*H.” And my sisters would
be in their rooms, sleeping. And I would be in my room, and he
would be in there, molesting me.”
Murray on Tuesday morning denied the allegations, saying he did
live with his cousin, Maryellen Sottile, and her children in New
York but did not abuse Dyer. He said there has been a rift in
the family for years, and this accusation is untrue.
“I did not sexually abuse any of her children,” Murray said.
“There’s a larger backstory between the Murrays and the Sottiles
“There’s been numerous fights between our two families for many
years, and much ugliness. I guess they see me down and out, and
they want to finish me off.”
Murray said in a statement Tuesday that he would resign
effective 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The molestation stopped, Dyer said, only after a boy in a
Catholic group home where Murray worked accused Murray of abuse.
According to Dyer, his uncle negotiated to get group-home
officials not to pursue charges as long as Murray left. After
that, Murray left town, Dyer said, and he never saw or spoke to
his cousin again.
“I have had no connection with that man — I don’t want any
connection with that man whatsoever. I look at him and I get
violently ill,” Dyer said.
An official for the group home, which is still operating,
confirmed that an Edward Murray worked there from 1975 to 1976,
but had no records saying why he left.
Murray said he didn’t abuse any children at the group home and
left in good standing to attend college in Portland.
Dyer’s mother — Murray’s first cousin — said her son came to her
several months after Murray moved out to say he had been abused.
“It’s a painful thing for a parent to go through because I
wanted to protect all my children,” said Maryellen Sottile, 76.
“And here this man came into my home, and he did these terrible
things to my son.”
Dyer and his mother said they are speaking out now after
learning recently of the other men who have accused Murray — and
because they’re outraged by Murray’s denials.
Dyer is the fifth man to publicly accuse Murray since April.
Murray, 62, a former Democratic state legislator, has repeatedly
denied that he sexually abused anyone, contending the
accusations are part of a political takedown targeting him for
his progressive politics and record as a gay-rights champion.
He announced in May he would end his re-election bid and leave
politics when his term expired at year’s end. But he had refused
to resign sooner, despite pressure from some mayoral candidates,
the city’s Human Rights Commission, LGBTQ Commission and two
City Council members, among others.
“I have had enough”
Murray’s other accusers — four men with criminal pasts and drug
histories — all claim Murray abused them decades ago, when each
was a troubled teenager.
Jeff Simpson says he was 13 when Murray began abusing him, after
Murray was his counselor at a Portland children’s center. The
abuse continued, Simpson said, when he lived with Murray as his
foster son for about a year, with Murray sometimes paying him
Simpson reported the alleged abuse in 1984, after being removed
from Murray’s home.
Murray was not criminally charged, but an Oregon Child
Protective Services’ investigator found Murray had sexually
abused Simpson. That prompted Oregon child-welfare officials to
conclude Murray should never again be a foster parent.
Lloyd Anderson, another man who met Murray in Portland as a boy,
has backed Simpson’s allegations, and said Murray also paid him
for sex when Anderson was a teenager.
Their allegations surfaced in April, when Delvonn Heckard, 46,
of Kent, filed a lawsuit saying Murray “raped and molested” him
in the 1980s when Heckard was a drug-addicted teen. He later
withdrew the lawsuit, but has filed a claim for damages against
the city of Seattle.
A friend of Heckard’s, Maurice Lavon Jones, 44, of Seattle, also
claimed Murray paid him for sex when he was a crack-addicted
teenage prostitute living on the streets in the 1980s.
Murray has denied all of their accusations.
Unlike the other men, Dyer — now studying to be a nurse —
doesn’t appear to have any criminal record and says he has never
used drugs. Murray has used other accusers’ pasts to attempt to
Dyer’s mother, Sottile, is Murray’s first cousin (her mother and
Murray’s mother, Anna Murray, were sisters). In a separate
interview, Sottile, a retired postal worker living in North
Carolina, corroborated her son’s account of how he told her what
had happened to him in their New York home.
Over the years, Sottile said, she heard bits and pieces about
Murray’s political career, from his days as a Washington state
legislator to his election in 2013 as Seattle’s mayor.
But she said she didn’t know about the recent allegations until
a few weeks ago — when her sister contacted her after coming
across news reports online. Sottile, in turn, contacted Dyer,
who started reading the stories, too.
Dyer said he got angry watching video of Murray appearing before
the media to deny some of the other men’s allegations. Dyer said
that led him to contact Seattle lawyer Lincoln Beauregard,
listed in the news accounts as representing Heckard.
Dyer provided a signed declaration detailing his own allegations
against Murray to Beauregard.
But the primary motivation for coming forward, Dyer said, is
“I didn’t know about any of these other people. I didn’t know
about this other gentleman that Mr. Beauregard is representing.
I knew about none of that,” Dyer said. “Because I saw … clips of
(Murray) denying what he did, that pissed me off to the point
where I am like, `That’s it. I have had enough.’ I have been
carrying this around for 40-some years. Something has got to be
Murray and his siblings went to live with relatives in New York
in 1975 after their mother died, Dyer and Sottile said.
A newspaper obituary from the time shows 53-year-old Anna M.
Murray died in Olympia in October 1974. It lists seven children,
including son, Edward, then living in Belfast, Northern Ireland,
among her survivors.
“We felt bad for the whole family because their mother had
died,” recalled Sottile, whose mother, Helen, is named in the
obituary as Anna Murray’s sister. “And one by one, they came and
stayed with us for a while, every one of them.”
Once in New York, the Murray siblings went to live with various
Murray lived at Sottile’s house, a three-bedroom rental on
Redpine Drive, in Medford, she recalled. Sottile, then a
divorced mother of four, took the smallest bedroom, while her
three daughters shared the master bedroom.
Murray, in his early 20s, shared the third bedroom with Dyer,
then 13. Dyer said he and Murray slept in a trundle bed — a bed
with a second mattress stored under it that can be pulled out.
Murray worked for a while at a tire store, Dyer recalled, before
getting a job at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Little Flower group
home for children in Wading River, about 16 miles away from
Sottile said she drove Murray to work every day, and Dyer said
Murray sometimes brought him along.
“I remember at one point he had a group of small children that
was called the ‘Angel Cottage,’” Dyer said. “ … I would help him
with the kids.”
Dyer said his father had abandoned the family and he was looking
for a father figure. Murray befriended him, Dyer said, talking
about their shared Irish heritage, even showing him a rubber
bullet he’d picked up in Northern Ireland, where Murray had
lived while working for a Catholic group helping children.
Dyer’s mother ran a strict household, he said; his bedtime was 8
p.m. Murray typically went to bed an hour later. On some nights,
Dyer said, Murray forced him to have oral sex.
“I felt it was wrong and I felt dirty,” Dyer said, but “he told
me it would be OK and it would be our secret and not to tell
Dyer said it went on until Murray was accused of abusing a boy
at the Little Flower group home.
Dyer and Sottile said they didn’t know details of the group
home’s accusations. At the time, Sottile said she and other
family members thought Murray was innocent.
“We all believed people didn’t do that,” she said. “This is 40-
some years ago, and you know, ‘Edward wouldn’t do that’ … There
must be a problem with this child … He must not like Edward or
Several months later, after Murray had moved out, Dyer told his
mother he had been abused, they said.
“I immediately got a hold of a doctor, and we sent him to
somebody to talk to,” Sottile recalled.
“I didn’t’ know what to do. You know, I’m a single parent,” she
added. “I did what I thought was right. I didn’t know you could
press charges or anything like that. I wish I had.”
Dyer said he resisted therapy, and mostly suppressed memories of
abuse. Over the years, his sisters and other relatives became
aware of what happened, but kept it within the family, he said.
After that, Sottile said she and her children largely severed
ties with the Murray family.
“We didn’t want to have anything to do with them anymore,”
Murray said the bad blood is rooted in a common-law marriage
between his sister and Sottile’s brother.
He questioned the timing of the accusation and The Seattle
Times’ continuing coverage.
“You’ve never been willing to portray anything but one side of
the story,” he said. “But on this one, this is bizarre beyond
Aileen Policross, Murray’s younger sister, said her cousins for
years have made up stories and lied about members of her own
family due to deep-seated jealousy and anger dating back decades.
“They’re liars, they’re liars,” said Policross, 57, who lives in
Pennsylvania. “My brother is not a pedophile … Edward takes care
of children, he does not abuse them.”
“It all came back”
A report written in 1983 by an Oregon social worker — obtained
by The Times in July — details Murray’s early work history with
The report noted Murray worked with children in a Catholic-
sponsored program in Ireland for a year, before returning home
after his mother died in 1974.
“After the funeral, he went to work again for the Catholic
Diocese of Brooklyn and was certified by New York State as a
children’s counselor,” the social worker wrote, based on an
interview with Murray.
Murray counseled “street kids, minority children, both Black and
Puerto Rican,” the report said.
The report didn’t specify where Murray worked, noting “he
enjoyed it but burned out and felt that … he needed a change of
pace,” so returned to the Pacific Northwest.
A spokeswoman for Little Flower, which was founded in 1930 and
has since expanded to provide multiple services for children and
families, confirmed that an Edward Murray worked at the Long
Island group home from June 4, 1975, to Aug. 29, 1976. The
spokeswoman said she found no records explaining why Murray left
Until two weeks ago, when Dyer said he learned of the other
men’s accusations, he says he’d mostly tried to forget about
“There were long periods of time where I never thought about him
or it,” Dyer said. “I was living my life.”
But after giving the signed declaration about the alleged abuse
to Beauregard, Dyer said, “it just hit me.”
“That night, basically it all came back to me,” he said. “I had
shivers. I was feeling nauseous. My wife — I was basically
crying and I was in a ball — she was cuddling me. And I couldn’t
sleep. I had the shakes. I don’t want to do that again.”
In his declaration, Dyer had criticized mayoral candidate Jenny
Durkan, City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and others for their
unwillingness to demand Murray’s resignation.
“I ask that Seattle’s elected officials have the courage to step
up and do what is right, and remove Murray from office,” his
Both Dyer and his mother said they’re willing to travel to
Seattle and publicly testify to their accounts.
“I want to see him disgraced,” Sottile said. “I don’t want him
walking around thinking, `Ha ha, I got away with this all these
years.’ No, you didn’t. Your chickens have come home to roost.
And I want closure for my son.”
Staff reporters Justin Mayo and Gene Balk contributed to this
Lewis Kamb: 206-464-2932
@lewiskamb. Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628
. Twitter @Jim_Brunner