Sexual harassment and assault

Man who sued Seattle’s ex-mayor, alleging sex abuse, dies from accidental overdose

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 2:12pm

The man who last year sued Seattle’s then mayor Ed Murray for alleged sexual abuse – prompting similar allegations that eventually led to Murray’s resignation – died due to an accidental overdose of illegal and prescription drugs, the King County medical examiner’s office reported Monday.

Delvonn Heckard died from “acute combined cocaine, opiate (heroin), Alprazolam and Diazepam intoxication,” an investigator with the office said Monday. His death was officially ruled an accident.

Heckard, 47, was found unresponsive early on February 16, after a friend called 911 to report he “was unconscious and foaming at the mouth” in his room at the Auburn Motel on Auburn Way South, a police report says. Fire medics responded and tried to resuscitate him, but Heckard was soon pronounced dead at the scene.

Inside his motel room, investigators found what appeared to be heroin residue and paraphernalia, as well as several bottles of prescription medications for depression and anxiety. Authorities withheld an official cause and manner of Heckard’s death pending toxicology tests.

Heckard’s death came about six weeks after the city of Seattle agreed to pay him and his legal team US$150,000 to drop a lawsuit against Murray and the city.

Heckard received US$100,000, with his lawyers donating the rest of the money to programmes helping sexual abuse survivors. Heckard’s attorney, Lincoln Beauregard, said he set up a trust account for Heckard so he wouldn’t spend the money too quickly.

A year ago, when he sued the Democratic mayor, Heckard was participating in several recovery programmes for years of addiction to cocaine and other drugs. His lawsuit alleged Murray repeatedly had paid him small amounts of money for sex in the late 1980s, when Heckard was a teenage addict living on the streets of Capitol Hill.

Four other men also alleged Murray had raped or paid them for sex decades earlier when they were teens.

Murray has denied all of his accusers’ allegations. He resigned in September after a fifth accuser – his younger cousin – came forward claiming Murray repeatedly had raped him in the mid-1970s.

Within a week of Heckard’s death, another accuser – Murray’s former foster son, Jeff Simpson – filed a claim for damages against the city seeking more than US$1 million. As with Heckard’s claim, Simpson also contends the city enabled Murray to use his public office and city resources to defame his accusers while he publicly denied their allegations last year.