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Seattle mayor denies child sex abuse claim, vows to stay in race

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Friday denied as “simply not true” allegations in a civil lawsuit that he once paid a homeless, drug-addicted teenager for sex in the 1980s, and he vowed to press on with his re-election campaign.

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Appearing briefly at the downtown office of his private attorney, Murray, 61, a Democrat who began his first term in 2013, shed no light on the identity of his anonymous accuser while challenging the man’s credibility.

“I understand the individual making these accusations is troubled, and that makes me sad as well,” he said.

“To be on the receiving end of such untrue allegations is very painful. It is painful to my husband and for those who are close to us,” said Murray, who is openly gay and married to his longtime partner.

The mayor neither disputed nor acknowledged whether he was ever acquainted with or had even met his accuser, a 46-year-old man referred to in the lawsuit filed on Thursday only as “D.H.”

Murray’s lawyer, Bob Shulkin, on Thursday said the lawsuit was politically motivated. Murray himself said he would “not back down.”

“I will continue to be mayor of this city, I will continue to run for re-election,” he declared.

Murray declined to take questions about a “legal matter that is in the courts,” then turned and walked away as reporters shouted after him.

Lincoln Beauregard, an attorney for the mayor’s accuser, said in a statement later, “It must be hard for (Murray) to know that his career is over.”

“If the mayor’s telling the truth, he should have no idea who my client is. If that is true, how can he paint him as ‘troubled’ and the like?” Beauregard said.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed he was a teenager riding a bus in Seattle in the 1980s when he encountered Murray, then about age 32, and was invited back to his home, where D.H. said he was paid $10 to $20 to perform various sex acts.

A spokesman for the King County prosecuting attorney said no criminal investigation has been opened, adding that the statute of limitations would have expired long ago, three years from the date of the alleged offenses.

The Seattle Times has reported that two other men have previously accused Murray of abusing them when they were teenagers in the 1980s. Shulkin said those claims “were investigated by law enforcement and the press” and found to be without merit.

Murray has denied those allegations and no charges were ever filed.

Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie Adler