It was the press conference everybody wished wasn’t happening.
Members of the press groaned and rolled their eyes in anticipation of a statement today by Mayor Ed Murray’s attorney, Robert Sulkin, confirming that Murray submitted to a medical examination by his personal doctor, Craig Pepin, to prove that he does not have a mole on his scrotum. The reason I had to write that last sentence, and the reason you’re reading it, is because Murray has been accused of sexually assaulting a man, known in his complaint as “D.H.,” when the accuser was a teenager in the 1980s. Sulkin, who prefaced his remarks by saying, “unfortunately, the level of discourse in the lawsuit has been very low,” argued that the medical report lets “the air out of the balloon” and takes “the feathers out of the pillow” on D.H.’s case. Translation: The description of a mole on the mayor’s scrotum is the linchpin of D.H.’s whole case; without it, it’s just his word against Murray’s.
Sulkin wasn’t done yet. After saying that D.H. had “absolutely no credibility,” Sulkin accused the man of “provid[ing] false information to his attorney” and demanded that his attorneys drop the complaint. (The Seattle Times reports that D.H.’s attorney, Lincoln Beauregard, said the medical exam by Murray’s personal doctor had not been independently verified.) When I asked him why he believed the absence of the purported mole was so important, when the lawsuit also included other details about Murray’s address, phone number, and apartment, Sulkin responded, “What does he have left? That this accuser knows his phone number? Would you say that if someone knows your phone number from 20 years ago, would you agree that you committed [a sex crime] with that person?”
It’s clear that Murray’s camp feels emboldened by yesterday’s announcement. The question that remains is whether they should have made it. The mayor has a reputation for being thin-skinned and taking things personally, and the impulse to fight back by submitting himself to a genital examination—and then subjecting the rest of the city to the results—is certainly in keeping with his tendency to choose fight over flight. This can be admirable when it comes to matters of principle—when fighting a decades-long battle for marriage equality, say, as Murray did in the legislature—but becomes more questionable when the result is that hundreds of thousands of voters are thinking about your junk, rather than your accomplishments.
The filing deadline for the mayoral race is May 15. So far, apart from poet and Black Lives Matter activist Nikkita Oliver, no high-profile or viable challenger has emerged to take Murray on. The mayor’s campaign has reported no contributions since the allegations emerged last week.