This story contains graphic sexual detail some may find disturbing.
A former Jackson resident has accused Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray of a sexual assault that occurred while they worked together at the same Cheyenne law firm more than 35 years ago.
Murray denied the allegations this morning, saying he was “shocked and appalled” to learn of them. In a statement, he said that this “baseless claim about an encounter from thirty-five years ago is unequivocally false. There is no basis to this falsehood whatsoever and it is deeply hurtful to me and to my family, as well as to everyone I serve.”
Tatiana Maxwell, maiden name Laybourn, 53, said that the summer after she graduated from high school, 1982, she worked at the law firm of Dray, Madison and Thompson in Cheyenne. Cheyenne native Ed “Eddie” Murray, a young law school graduate, had also been hired to work at the firm.
Lawyer Greg Dyekman, of Dray, Dyekman, Reed and Healey P.C. in Cheyenne, said employment records for Dray, Madison and Thompson — the same firm but with different lawyers at the time and therefore a different name —don’t go back to 1982.
“I can tell you that they both worked here, but I can’t tell you if they overlapped,” he said. “Our records don’t that far back.”
In a statement Maxwell posted Monday afternoon on Facebook, she said that Murray invited her to “hang out” at the office after hours one day in 1982.
“Ed and I had never gone out,” she wrote, “hadn’t really talked much or knew each other well, so when the talk quickly came to how attracted he was to me and he started putting his hands on me and tried to kiss me, I was completely uncomfortable.”
“I was a virgin and had never had sex with a man and I told Eddie so. I think that, and the fact that I struggled and wouldn’t let him unbutton my pants kept it from going further. What did happen is that Ed wrestled me down to the carpet in front of the receptionist desk, opened his pants, lifted up my blouse and ejaculated on my stomach. I was disgusted and horrified. One of the unforgettable memories was of him handing me the box of Kleenex from the receptionist’s desk to clean myself up after he was finished. I cleaned up and got out as quickly as I could, Eddie apologizing for getting so excited but couching it in terms suggesting I was just too attractive to resist.’”
Maxwell’s soon to be ex-husband, Paul Maxwell, said he can corroborate that Maxwell told him that story but would not comment on anything further. The two did not know each other in 1982.
Maxwell and Murray have seen each other a handful of times since that summer, Maxwell estimated. Murray married a classmate of Maxwell’s, so two of those run-ins were at high school reunions. Maxwell says that at her 10th reunion at the Wyoming Hereford Ranch, Murray approached her and “told me he wanted to apologize for what had happened almost a decade before but, again, he couched it in terms that I was irresistible and he couldn’t control himself.”
“I don’t think that’s an apology,” Maxwell told the News&Guide. “I think that is an excuse.”
She said that he alluded to the incident a second time, at her 20th reunion at the Hynds Building in Cheyenne.
“In two instances, he’s acknowledged this,” Maxwell said. “And now he wants to say it didn’t happen. That’s not true.”
Maxwell said that Murray hasn’t contacted her since her Facebook post and has never offered her money or threatened her to stop talking about what happened.
Will Dinneen, Murray’s public information and communications officer, has not responded to questions about if Murray remembered working with Maxwell, ever dated or went out with her, or had any relationship with her outside of work.
Maxwell lived in Jackson from 1995 to 2010 as a developer. Many of her family members still live in Cheyenne, and her parents go to the same church as Murray.
Maxwell now lives in Boulder, Colorado, and is the mother to three daughters, ages 17, 25 and 28 years old.
“They, too, have had incidents where they didn’t know where to go, and they didn’t know what to do,” she said. “As a mother, that’s really awful. If my coming out to tell this story can prevent that from happening to these young people, then that’s the right thing to do.”
Maxwell said the #MeToo movement inspired her to come forward after thinking about her experience for decades.
“It is hard to talk about because these are not easy conversations to have in public,” she told the News&Guide. “It’s hard to find the moment. That’s why you maybe only share it with your closest friends. And it feels icky. All those uncomfortable traumatic feelings come back. So that’s what makes it difficult.”
The #MeToo dialogue, she said, is helping to change some of that.
“The conversation is taking hold nationally because it affects so many people, and it is a conversation that is bubbling to the surface,” Maxwell said. “From my viewpoint, I don’t think any of the women who have come forward have done it with ease.”
Murray acknowledged the social movement in his statement.
“I struggle to understand what would motivate someone to make this kind of accusation,” he wrote. “But considering that this statement was made in the context of the #metoo movement, I want to take this moment to acknowledge the overall importance of this conversation, as well as to reaffirm my commitment to being an ally for women. As a husband of thirty-one years and the father of four incredible daughters, I take my role as an advocate for women with utmost importance. While I am deeply disturbed by this false allegation, I choose to allow this to serve as a reminder of how important it is to be an advocate for the courageous women and men who have spoken out against a very serious problem in our country. Sexual harassment is real and has no place in our society.”
Murray’s position of power in Wyoming means Maxwell’s bad experience just keeps coming up, she said.
“The common experience is that as you hear the name of someone who’s done something like this to you, it really does bring up old feelings that are about the incident itself, and it’s humiliating that you haven’t been able to say something about that,” she said. “It’s a sense of powerlessness. That’s why I don’t want my girls or any other girls to feel that sense that you can’t do anything about it.”
Maxwell said she did not go public with her story for political reasons and has been mulling it over for decades.
“This is not political,” she said. “This is personal. I woke up, and it just came out. It wasn’t really a predetermined thing. Across the country, we are having a societal conversation about this kind of pervasive abuse of power, and I just feel like it’s the time for me to add my experience to that. I really didn’t think much past the Facebook post, but I really want my girls to know that they can come forward if something like this happens to them. I do think it’s going to be awkward and difficult.”
This story has been updated to include quotes from lawyer Greg Dyekman, of Dray, Dyekman, Reed and Healey P.C. in Cheyenne. —Ed.