Murray (second from left) with other members of council. (Facebook)

B.C. city councillor resigns after sexual assault conviction

David Murray resigned following a loud public outcry

Dave Murray, convicted last week of sexual assault, has resigned from Pitt Meadows council.

Mayor John Becker made the announcement on his Facebook page.

“As promised, I am writing to report that today I met with David Murray and obtained his resignation from city council. There are matters that are required to be addressed by council in a closed meeting. I will be tasking staff to organize a special closed meeting for Monday, Oct. 30,” Becker said.

“I am not going to be releasing any more information on this matter until presenting my report to City Council for direction.”

On Wednesday, after three days in court, Murray was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 13 or 14-year-old girl who, worked for him in 1992.

Shortly after his conviction, Murray wasn’t sure if he would resign from council.

There is nothing in the Community Charter, which governs municipal politicians, to compel Murray to step down. He remained on council despite the sexual assault charge since November 2016.

Murray’s next appearance in court will be Jan. 10, when a date will be set for a sentencing hearing. That would likely follow in March.

Then, Murray noted, he will have 30 days to appeal the decision.

His attorney has advised him not to say anything more, he said.

“I wasn’t expecting this to go this way,” he said earlier this week. “I’m a Christian person, and God knows I haven’t done anything. “

Coun. Bill Dingwall immediately called for Murray should step down.

“It’s about the reputation of the city and public confidence,” Dingwall said.

In a previous Facebook post, Becker wrote: “Council operates under rule of law and due process. Unlike individual members of council, when the Mayor speaks it is on behalf of council as a whole and the entire community. When someone moves from councillor to Mayor their voice carries much greater weight, but with that comes much greater responsibility to act only with legislative authority or pursuant and authorizing resolution of council. In this situation I have neither, but have satisfied myself that my position in fact reflects the will of council and properly reflects the will of the community.”

A petition started online also calling for Murray to resign. It had more than 1,000 signatures as of Sunday.

Murray was first charged on Nov. 16, 2016 with one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference with a person under the age of 14 in relation to incident back in 1992.

He pleaded not guilty and elected a trial by provincial judge.

Murray remained on council, to which he was first elected in 2011, and attended regular meetings, as well as community events.

A former employee of Murray testified at the start of his trial Monday that he sexually assaulted her at their workplace in 1992.

The woman, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, told the court she began working for Murray that summer and that the two initially had a friendly relationship.

His behaviour eventually turned “inappropriate” as he bought her expensive clothing and took her out for dinners, including one at a revolving restaurant.

“I remember he bought me really expensive jeans … that I really liked but couldn’t afford,” she said in court, adding that her mother and stepfather, with whom she lived at the time, were “concerned” about the relationship.

“I knew he liked me, he was flirtatious with me,” the complainant said. “But I liked it and I didn’t want it to stop.”

One day in late summer or early fall of 1992, Murray asked her to come into work early.

When she arrived, she said the workplace was still closed and Murray was the only person there.

The complainant broke down in the courtroom, her voice shaky and her eyes teary as she described the alleged assault. She said she was lying down, and that Murray was kneeling beside her as moved his hands up her leg, under her shorts, and touched her genitals.

The complainant could not remember how long the alleged assault lasted, but said that when it was done, Murray walked away to a different part of the workplace.

She finished her shift and never came back to work. She did not see Murray again until she moved to Pitt Meadows as an adult.

The complainant’s voice shook as she described seeing Murray’s name everywhere, especially as a campaign for the 2014 local elections began.

She decided to report Murray to the RCMP in 2015, following a public city meeting where she saw him in person.

Murray, secretary-treasurer of the CUPE Fraser Valley District Labour Council, was originally charged with sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under the age of 14.

But Crown counsel asked for the second charge to be stayed, citing an inability to confirm whether the complainant was 13 or 14 at the time of the alleged assault.

On the second day of the trial, Murray denied that he had taken advantage of the complainant’s trust.

He repeatedly denied that he called her in early one morning, asked to practice a massage on her, and then rubbed his hands up her legs and into her genitals.

Murray acknowledged that the complainant was attractive, but said she was by far not the only youth to confide in him.

The councillor told the court that he hired the complainant, and her coworker, for a three-day auction in September 1992.

Murray said he assumed both were around 17. He said he learned after the auction they were both actually 14, and that he never questioned their age, despite visits he called “disconcerting” from both girls’ parents.

Murray told the court he had hired two seemingly random girls, whose ages he did not even know, to work at what he had said was a high-priced auction with items worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Murray said news coverage of the auction leading up to it had made him “panic” when he realized he didn’t have anyone to help him.

As a result, he approached two girls who had been hanging around the store with some boys.

“You wanted girls to help you for the auction … because your customers were male,”Crown counsel Wendy Wakabayashi asked.

“Yes,” Murray replied.

The maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years in prison, and there is no minimum sentence.

 

Dave Murray (far right) with other members of council, Katzie chief Susan Miller, MP Dan Ruimy and former MLA and city councillor Doug Bing. (Facebook)

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