Delvonn Heckard, the man who sued Ed Murray on grounds of child rape, withdrew his case against the mayor on Wednesday.
His attorneys filed a motion in the King County Superior Court to dismiss the lawsuit on Tuesday, and the judge granted the request. The document said "Heckard feels as though it would be wise to complete his extensive counseling and recovery this December" before moving forward with the lawsuit.
"To any of the victims of sexual abuse who were hurt by my initial response to this story, I am deeply sorry," Murray said in a press conference Wednesday, with his cabinet members standing behind him. "But just as I must be held to the highest standards, it is equally important that the media and lawyers be held to the highest standards of their respected professions."
The lawsuit, filed on April 6, alleged that Murray sexually abused Heckard in his teens, starting when he was 15 (in 1986). Two other men had similar claims against Murray years ago, and since then, a fourth accuser came forward. The trial was set for April 2, 2018. Bob Sulkin, Murray's attorney, said the case was withdrawn the day before Heckard was due to answer written questions under oath.
Murray said he was targeted "by an attorney with a publicity agenda" who achieved a political goal. He wouldn't rule out seeking a write-in candidacy, and also said he'd explore his own legal options in the case in the next few months.
"I truly believe that Seattle should've had a choice, that a lawyer, a (publicity-hungry) lawyer, with special connections to certain members of the press should not be driving...who the next mayor of the city is," Murray said. "The voters of the city should've had that opportunity."
The motion also said Heckard feels that he may not obtain a fair trial, that Murray's legal team "successfully tainted the jury pool with false information about the accusers," and that it would be better to wait until Murray is no longer mayor. The judge rejected that claim, and dismissed attorney Lincoln Beauregard's request to move the trial out of the city. According to The Seattle Times, Heckard "agreed" with his attorneys to drop the lawsuit for now.
Murray dropped his reelection bid on May 9, a month after battling the lawsuit, while maintaining his innocence. Murray's representatives have said the lawsuit was politically motivated. Since then 21 candidates filed to run for mayor.
"I'm furious," said Michael Shiosaki, Murray's husband, at the press conference Wednesday.
"Mr. Heckard's primary goal in relation to this lawsuit, letting the public know the truth, is accomplished," Beauregard wrote in the motion.
Delvonn's goal was to spread the truth -- the Mayor's decision not to run for reelection proved he was heard! Justice!— LincolnLawyer (@quietplease321) June 14, 2017
Jeff Reading, Murray's spokesman, in a strongly worded statement Wednesday said the Beauregard's actions were "disgraceful and destructive."
“It is extremely disappointing that a publicity-seeking attorney put the city through this shameful episode in the first place," Reading said. "More than that, it is shocking to our democracy for Lincoln Beauregard to declare, as he did on Twitter today, that, in denying Seattle voters the choice to re-elect a popular and successful mayor, justice has been served."
Mayoral candidates Jessyn Farrell and Jenny Durkan both sent statements; Durkan said Murray has a friend who's been a strong leader, and Farrell said the city "must reject the politics of personal destruction."