Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who has been accused by four men of sexually abusing them as teenagers, dropped his bid for re-election on Tuesday, May 9, saying that the scandal would be a distraction from more important issues. (Reuters)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared an end to his long political career Tuesday after struggling for months to refute the latest allegations that he paid teenage boys for sex decades ago.

At an emotional news conference surrounded by friends and supporters Murray, 62, said he would serve out his term, which ends on Dec. 31, but not seek reelection.

“The mayoral race,” the Democratic mayor said at an emotional news conference, “must be focused on the urgent, important issues facing our city, but those are being overshadowed by the false allegations against me, which have hurt the city, my family and Michael,” a reference his husband, Michael Shiosaki.

Describing himself as a “poor kid” from a Seattle neighborhood “who never even heard the word ‘gay,’” Murray conceded that “this career that has been my life will come to an end on Dec. 31.”

Murray has taken on the anti-Trump “resistance” mantle, sanctioning Seattle’s suit against President Trump’s crackdown on “sanctuary cities” and describing the Trump White House as “America’s first authoritarian administration.”

His announcement was the climax not just of years but actually decades of accusations against Murray, most of which didn’t get publicized until now, which he attributed to people being out to get him because of his strong stands in favor of gay rights and other progressive causes.

One man first went to the police with charges against Murray in 1984, according to the Seattle Times. Police investigated but brought no charges.

He and a second man again approached reporters in 2008 with claims of abuse by Murray. No news organizations chose to publish the story.

The latest round of charges began with a lawsuit by a 44-year-old man alleging that Murray sexually abused him on numerous occasions when he was a crack-cocaine-addicted teen for payments of $10 to $20.

At the time, Murray was in his 30s. The accuser was 15.

“I have been dealing with this for over 30 years,” the man told the Seattle Times, saying he was speaking as part of a “healing process” after years of “shame, the embarrassment, the guilt, the humiliation that I put myself through and that he put me through.”

Murray responded to the suit defiantly, saying “things have never come easy to me in life, but I have never backed down and I will not back down.”

He went so far as to submit to a medical examination of his genital area to show “no trace of a growth or mole,” as described in the lawsuit.

Three more men, all with criminal records, then emerged to say he abused them in the 1980s, paying them for sex when they were underage. One of them was a foster son of Murray who told the Seattle Times that Murray “began sexually abusing him as a 13-year-old and later paid him for sex.”

Their “shocking allegations about the mayor,” as the Times said, “bore similarities” to the story told by the man “of what he said happened to him when he was a crack cocaine-addicted high-school dropout living on the streets of Seattle.”

During the course of the scandal, the Seattle Times felt it had some explaining to do about, as its headline said, “Why we are publishing the allegations against Mayor Ed Murray, but didn’t in 2008.”

“Ultimately, we felt we did not have enough information to publish these very serious accusations,” Seattle Times editor Michelle Matassa Flores wrote in the April 7 article.

She added:

We decided we needed to take another look when we learned recently that a Kent man was preparing to sue now-Mayor Murray.

A lawsuit of this nature against a public official is news.

When a claim is filed in court, the justice system assures the accused of a thorough public examination of any evidence that is presented, along with the opportunity to present a full defense. The filing of the lawsuit is also, in itself, a matter of public interest.

When we learned this lawsuit was pending, we therefore began looking into the new allegations, along with the earlier ones. We found no connection between the new accuser, identified in the lawsuit as D.H., and the other men. Our reporting revealed similarities among the three accounts, including some graphic details. We felt readers should know.

Murray in his news conference denied all the accusations, as he has all along.

They “paint me in the worst possible historic portraits of a gay man,” he said. And while they are not true, the scandal “surrounding them and me is hurting this city,” including “all those” who have been victims of abuse.

” … For this reason I am withdrawing as a candidate for mayor. … It tears me to pieces to step away but I believe it is in the best interest of the city I love.”

Murray has been a progressive political activist, champion of gay rights and self-described “social justice Catholic” in Seattle since the 1980s. He has held public office since 1995, when he was appointed to Washington’s House of Representatives, serving there until 2006, when he was elected to the state senate.

He was elected mayor in 2013 and was expected to be reelected easily.

Even some of those he allegedly molested praised him for his record. The man who was Murray’s foster son told the Times he thought what Murray “has done for the city of Seattle has been awesome, man. I feel for Seattle. I do. But I think that these are some of the consequences he has to face.

“The consequences that the survivors of him have gone through have been 100 times worse than that.”

The Washington Post does not generally name victims or alleged victims of sexual abuse.