Attorney: Why Seattle settled Murray case and ‘closed it out now’
The attorney who represented one of former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s accusers says that the recent $150,000 settlement with the city, while expensive for taxpayers, was a good move for Seattle — it stopped any further digging into the city’s “political apparatus.”
“There would have been stuff that wasn’t pretty coming out,” Lincoln Beauregard told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about the case if it would have continued. “Even if nothing new came out, it’s just no good for the city to stay in the headlines any longer. We think we got our justice in a lot of ways. So it’s good to close it out now.”
Beauregard is the attorney representing Delvonn Heckard who publicly accused Murray of sexual abuse in April 2017. The abuse allegedly occurred in the ’80s when Heckard was a teenager. Four other men came forward with additional allegations in the months that followed. It led to Murray opting not to run for reelection and ultimately resigning from office. Heckard sued Murray and the City of Seattle for the fallout from his allegations.
Beauregard said that if the city did not settle and the lawsuit continued, his legal team could have dug further into city communications and uncovered details about other Seattle leaders and how they handled the controversy. Those details, he argues, would not be favorable to politicians.
“The public has a right to know that there was a condition in the settlement that we release Ed Murray as well,” he said. “… if the litigation against Ed Murray had continued, it would have been a sloppy, messy litigation that would have still involved digging deep into the political apparatus of the city and I think it’s in the best interest of the city to close that out.”
“Most people would say politicians make decisions to protect themselves,” Beauregard added. “I’m not saying that was part of the thought process … that’s my personal impression from being in the middle of it – (the settlement) is good for the city and it might be collaterally good for some politicians as well.”
For example, there are people who worked on Murray’s reelection campaign who went to work for current Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Those people may have been subject to depositions if the case moved forward.
“Ya know, ‘Ed Murray’s former spokesperson is deposed,’ and ‘emails reveal it was a big plan on the false narrative about the conspiracy,’” Beauregard said. “Imagine that continues and it would be unhealthy for the city. And the truth is, a lot of the people who were working with Ed Murray are working with Jenny Durkan … those people deserve to move on with their lives and keep doing their jobs.”
“You know (Murray’s) political apparatus sat down, talked about this, devised a strategy, disseminated it as far as keeping him in office and people keeping their jobs,” he said.
Conflicted Seattle politics
Beauregard said that it wasn’t only his client that was attacked in response to the case — he too was publicly attacked, and his legal team. He says that it has altered his personal politics.
“I started out thinking that I was an uber, uber Liberal at the beginning of this case,” he said. “And then — as I watched some of the leaders in the party I affiliate myself with do the things they did — I now kind of declare myself a left-centrist … I’m so disgusted with the way this was handled.”
Beauregard points out Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshaw as one example.
“She stood up, looked in the camera and said she believed in Ed Murray,” he said. “She’s a trained lawyer. She knew he was liable, most likely, from the very beginning … Delvonn Heckard is my client and he played a big role in this. But the people that a lot of these (Murray supporters) were starting a narrative against were me and my legal team. We were just trying to do what was right and our sworn oath.”
Beauregard says he’s happy with Seattle leadership moving forward. But it’s difficult to deny that he became a minor factor in the mayoral campaigns last year. For example, he donated to Durkan’s campaign, but that donation was returned. He understands the politics behind it, but it is still unsettling.
“I’m not happy about it, ” Beauregard said. “I’m still pissed she returned my donation. I don’t think that was cool … she knew it wasn’t a conspiracy.”
“I personally believe in the new leadership,” he said. “I don’t like a lot of the things Jenny Durkan did during the campaign, but I also believe in her as a new leader of the city. I think she will do a good job. I think Pete Holmes will do a good job.”
Ed Murray’s lawyer responds
After the settlement was announced, Ed Murray’s attorney — Steve Fogg with the Corr Cronin Law Firm — said that they were happy the case was settled, though they were prepared to further fight in court.
“Ed was prepared to fight these allegations which were untrue, but we were not going to stand in the way of a settlement if the city wanted to settle the case in a way that cleared both the city and Mayor Murray of liability,” Fogg told KIRO Radio. “We made it very clear that Ed was never going to admit these allegations are true, because they are, in fact, false. And we made it clear that Ed was not going to contribute his own funds to the settlement because, why contribute funds if you didn’t do what you are accused of doing.”
“My perspective as Ed’s lawyer is that if the case went to trial we would have prevailed, but we would have prevailed at great expense and for that reason I can understand why the city would settle for what — in the world of litigation — is a relatively nominal amount,” he said.