Bruce Harrell sworn in as Seattle's 54th mayor, after Murray resigns over abuse allegations

SEATTLE — Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell was sworn in Wednesday as the city's mayor, after Ed Murray resigned over sex abuse allegations.

Murray announced Tuesday that he was stepping down effective 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Murray's decision to step down came just hours after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man had alleged that Murray abused him decades ago. Murray has denied all the allegations but said his resignation was in the city's best interests.

Harrell was surrounded by other city officials as he was sworn in. He said that should signal that the duties of the city's government go beyond one person or one office.

Harrell said he will decide by 5 p.m. Friday whether to finish Murray's term, which ends in December. If he declines, the council will appoint someone else.

Murray was not present for Harrell’s swearing-in. Murray disappeared from the spotlight with no sightings of him at City Hall since news broke that a fifth man was accusing him of sexual molestation from decades ago. That accuser is Murray’s younger cousin.

“He’s recognized that the mounting allegations would make it hard for him to finish his term,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said Wednesday, adding that he had talked to Murray on Tuesday, right before Murray’s decision to resign as mayor.

“His cabinet weighed in to make that decision. We offered legal advice for the questions that were raised and it was ultimately his decision,” Holmes said.

He added that as as long as there is no gap in executive leadership, city government will continue to run.

“All of the government framework will stay in place until subsequent executive action is taken; nothing changes in that sense,” Holmes said.

Holmes said if Harrell declines to continue on as mayor, he can still lead the city as "mayor pro tem" or acting mayor until the City Council votes for a replacement.

Harrell said at his news conference Wednesday that if he declines to stay on as mayor, he hopes the council will vote for a replacement by Monday. Harrell said the City Charter does not state a deadline for a City Council vote on that matter.