Opinion: Damaging allegations hit Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks to supporters, Aug. 15, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo / Brynn Anderson)

In a December runoff, I guess you get November surprises. This certainly qualifies as one.

The Washington Post is reporting Roy Moore, the longtime social-conservative politician and current U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama, had inappropriate contact with four teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Moore is now 70 years old, so these incidents took place almost four decades ago. The girls were ages 14, 16, 17 and 18, respectively, at the time of each incident.

Importantly, all four women, who are now in their 50s, made these allegations in on-the-record interviews with the Post. They are named, and their stories about their interactions with Moore are described at length and in detail, and corroborated by friends who say they knew about the incidents at the time.

Moore has denounced the allegations as false, and the Post’s reporting as politically motivated.

The alleged inappropriate contact only went beyond kissing with one of the girls: then-14-year-old Leigh Corfman. But what’s most stunning about her story is how she and Moore supposedly met. From the Post’s story:

“It was early 1979 and Moore … was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.

“‘He said, “Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,” ‘ says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. ‘I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.’

“Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. …”

Think about that: The allegation is that Moore initiated this contact with a 14-year-old girl while supposedly keeping an eye on her for her mother in a courthouse.

The response from Moore’s would-be Senate colleagues has been swift, if a bit hedged:

You’ll notice a significant qualifier on each of those statements (and many of the others that have come out from other Republican senators, but not all of them): “If … true.”

These allegations are all on the record, with corroboration. The Post’s article reads like a very tightly reported story. Then again, Moore is denying the allegations, and they’re almost 40 years old at this point. It’s a matter of he said, she (and she and she and she) said — although the she’s have a lot more specifics on their side at the moment.

Moore is trying to play up the fact that these allegations have never surfaced before, even though this is his fifth run for statewide office over the past couple of decades. In the couple of years I covered him as an AP reporter in Montgomery, including the legal battle over his famous Ten Commandments monument and his ultimate removal from office as the state’s chief justice (the first time), I never heard anything along these lines.

What has changed, however, is that we’ve just gone through a remarkable month in which more women than ever before have stepped forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment or assault. We seem to have passed a tipping point since the initial Weinstein allegations. While such allegations were not uncommon before that, it has become clear that many, probably most, women with such experiences have been extremely reluctant for years to talk publicly about them. It is not unreasonable to think Moore’s accusers felt similarly before, and have become emboldened to speak out now.

(As if to underscore that point, the New York Times just published a story in which five women accuse comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct.)

That shift doesn’t make the allegations against Moore true, but it does substantially weaken the argument they are being made at this time only out of political opportunism. In fact, one of the women told the Post she often votes for Republicans, including Donald Trump last year.

There are almost five weeks until the Dec. 12 election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. So while it’s unclear what the GOP will do, or even could do, in light of these allegations, there is some time for the party to make a decision. But not a lot. Given the way these stories have unfolded regarding Weinstein and some others, with some allegations leading to others, the party may be wary of making a quick decision to stand by Moore. I expect a great deal of pressure on Moore to step aside and/or the state GOP to withdraw its nomination of him, which reportedly means he wouldn’t be certified as the winner even if he gets the most votes. Perhaps Republicans could stage a write-in campaign for another campaign, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski waged and won in Alaska after being defeated in the primary in 2010 — although Alabama’s “sore loser” law apparently means, unlike Murkowski, defeated incumbent Luther Strange could not be that candidate.

In any case, it’s another black eye this week for a party that isn’t handling its accumulation of power very well.

Reader Comments 0

290 comments
breckenridge
breckenridge

Every day the Roy Moore story stays on the front page is a disaster for the republican party.  The party is already struggling mightily with independent voters and suburban women.  This is simply going to drive more and  more voters away.

Starik
Starik

The reason these accusations hit home with Moore is that he is such a bible-thumper. Many see him as a spectacular hypocrite. Some Christians see him as just another sinner who has been forgiven; Christians of that variety are common in the rural and small town South. A skirmish in the ongoing culture war. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik 

Pathetic how atheists portend to know so much about the Bible and how Christians think not just in the small town South but in the 40 states that comprise most of this Republic.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Starik It's perfectly obvious to anybody. Bible thumpers freely tell us what and how they think. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The far-left lemmings are still scurrying around like rats looking for crumbs of cheese forever desperate because they keep coming up short. Trump collusion with the Russians and currently the 40 year old allegation that Roy Moore is a pedophile and that Alabama voters are okay with pedophilia. They have much more to be concerned with like Donna Brazile exposing the intra-party corruption within their party that is rat poison that this vermin pretend they're not dying from. MAGNA

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit MAGNA? That's a new one.  Agreed that both parties are corrupt to the core.  Are Trumpists a third party? 

breckenridge
breckenridge

And yet there are voters in Alabama who are saying "Okay, being a pedophile may be demonic, but it's not as demonic as being a democrat."


And this how low we've sunk.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Roy Moore.


Enemy of the US Constitution.


Enemy of the First Amendment.


Spectacularly unqualified to serve in the US Senate.

MarkVV
MarkVV

The argument used by the defenders of former judge Moore against the accusation of fondling a 14 year old when he was 32 are remarkable for their inanity:

1.It is political!

DUH! Anything said or written about a candidate, disparaging or complimentary, is “political.”  Would you reject any positive story from your candidate’s past as being “political?”

2.The alleged behavior was not criminal.

While this claim is by itself questionable, it is also irrelevant, at least for decent people. Have you stooped so low that your criterion of disqualifying behavior for a candidate for a high office is whether it is criminal?

Doomy
Doomy

@MarkVV



"While this claim is by itself questionable, it is also irrelevant, at least for decent people."


Decent people would also demand that a sitting U.S. senator under indictment resign. Where, pray tell, are these "decent people"? 


" Have you stooped so low that your criterion of disqualifying behavior for a candidate for a high office is whether it is criminal?"


Have you stooped so low as to determine the man guilty on one alleged incident in a "he said she said" that just came out from nearly 40 years ago? Seriously? Have you stooped so low that your criterion for certain guilt now encompasses rumors from nearly 40 years ago that cannot even remotely be proven to be true? Have you really stooped that low? Who are you that you know for certain that this actually occurred? Are you omniscient? Are you God? 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Doomy @MarkVV “Decent people would also demand that a sitting U.S. senator under indictment resign. Where, pray tell, are these "decent people"? “

A typical deflection.

"Have you stooped so low as to determine the man guilty on one alleged incident in a "he said she said" that just came out from nearly 40 years ago?"

Another deflection. I have not determined anything. It is just you and people like you stooping low by making stupid arguments in defense of the one accused.

Eustis
Eustis

You can look at Moore and tell he is a "Dirty old Man"; just like some of our "Preachers" out there.

Doomy
Doomy

@Eustis


How did you acquire such a talent that you can miraculously just look at someone and determine their sin? 


We sure could have used people like you when Ted Bundy was alive. Cause then you could have just looked at him, determined him to be the serial killer that he was later proven to be, we coulda executed him on the spot, and we woulda saved some young ladies lives with this miraculous talent of yours. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

An aide to Mitch McConnell said today that Mitch would rather lose the Alabama seat than have Roy Moore elected.


Good job Mitch.  Way to take a stand against pedophiles in the Senate.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Wonder how the Democrats and the media will be viewing the sexual harassment allegations against Democrat state representative Tony Mendoza who'll be running for a California U.S. senator. He'll probably get a pass.

NeboSuki1
NeboSuki1

@SGTGrit Mendoza will be treated the same way as Moore.  No doubt you're thinking about the Faux news bubble where 4 min. of coverage is devoted to Moore , but 12 hours to Weinstein.  The same was true for O'Reilly.  "Oh, look over there"...yet another made-up Hillary story instead of looking at and holding accountable your own house. 

Doomy
Doomy

@NeboSuki1 @SGTGrit


The Weinstein coverage is significantly more for 3 reasons.


Number one is the sheer number of victims of Weinstein - over 30 now. 


Number 2 is the difference in severity of crime. Moore's only transgression is kissing and fondling one teenage girl. The difference in scale between kissing and fondling one teenage girl vs raping and or sexually harassing over 30 women should be obvious even to a progressive. 


The third difference is that the Weinstein case also brings up the widespread culture of sexual abuse throughout Hollywood where this culture of sexual harassment apparently has been the standard for decades. That's quite a bit more important than the story of one man kissing and groping a teenager. And frankly, we don't even know if its true since its only 1 girl who is underage and who alleged the fondling. Its a he said she said. 

Eustis
Eustis

@SGTGrit  I'd be more worried about Trump embracing our enemy, Russia. Pretty bad when you believe Putin over our own intel services.  What country is he loyal to; maybe just to himself

NeboSuki1
NeboSuki1

I wouldn't be surprised if the people of Alabama elect Moore.  They shouldn't!    After watching the disaster that is trump, I have little faith (OK...almost none at all) in the ability of almost 40% of US citizens to EVER discern right from wrong or even come in out of the rain.

I hope I'm wrong.

Doomy
Doomy

@NeboSuki1


Apparently, you have already convicted the man. It's important to remember that its a "he said she said" that involves whether or not he fondled one teenager nearly 40 years ago. And he denies it happened. Do you really want to convict a guy based on one allegation that is just now coming up nearly 40 years later? 

casper09
casper09

blame the left blame fake news i hope that judge Moore get elected by the people of my home state then this country will see what many of us have known for a long time these folks make thier own truths they hate the other side so much they will elect this clown so i say go ahead show the rest of the country what the people of alabama really stand for folks like me have known all our lives now the rest of the country can see for themselves

ProudACLU
ProudACLU

I absolutely can not stand Roy Moore - but even I think that using 30-year-old, un-provable accusations is wrong and smells like an official con job, which in turn gives the right reason to blame the left and divide us deeper. Now had it been last week, then it would be completely different.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@ProudACLU 

You're an honest person. It isn't about liking or supporting Roy Moore, it's about fairness.

Doomy
Doomy

@ProudACLU


I'm a conservative and I don't like Roy Moore either. But like you I think its a bit ridiculous to throw him under the bus over one allegation from nearly 40 years ago. 

Doomy
Doomy

@breckenridge @Starik @SGTGrit @ProudACLU


The other girls were of legal age and stated that the only thing that ever occurred was kissing. Is it a bit creepy for a 32 year old to be dating 18 or 19 year olds? Yeah. I'd say so. But it's still perfectly legal and I personally know plenty of married couples where the man was in his mid 20s and married a girl in her teens and even early teens like 14 or 15. 

bendedknee
bendedknee

Love watching these  right wing misogynists below come up with defenses for ole Roy   Moore. 

Best one is that  Bubba Bill  Clinton did worse .

None of his accusers said they were  molested by him when they were a teen or under age of  consent;

Juanita Broderick swore under oath that Clinton did not rape her:

Monica Lewinsky was a consenting adult who seduced Bill and did not  claim harassment;

Paula Jones Case got dismissed by the Court.


Now if you want to talk about the lawsuits and allegations against the orange groper in chief, Roy Moore is an amateur misogynist and GOP has set the barrier way low.


bu22
bu22

@bendedknee  Paula Jones got paid 850k by Bill while it was on appeal.  You don't do that if you have a good case.  And the dismissal didn't have to do with the claim.  It had to do with whether she proved "damages."

breckenridge
breckenridge

"Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside."  Mitt Romney, 11-10-2017

I believe her too.  And the multitude of others interviewed for the story.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Some protesters showed up to greet that filthy old pedophile Roy Moore this morning. I like it.  Hopefully it's just the start and the protests will grow and grow.


As for Moore himself..........I don't think he has much of a clue as to what's going on.  I'd bet dollars to doughnuts he has early phase Alzheimer's.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Happy Veterans Day to all Vets currently serving and to those who previously served.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Hardly surprises that the usual suspects are ok with Moore molesting a 14-year-old girl.

If you had any integrity at all you'd be organizing a write-in campaign for some acceptable Republican candidate. It can be done, and has been done.

If that seat's really that important to you, that's what you righties should do.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Visual_Cortex 

Just because there's many of us who question the validity of these allegations just surfacing after 40 years and the timing of the reporting doesn't mean we're ok with anyone molesting 14 year old girls. If you have to make a distorted assumption your own integrity comes into question.

Doomy
Doomy

@Visual_Cortex


It's a he said she said, sir. Perhaps you've heard of innocent until proven guilty. Or does that simply not apply when its a conservative? Don't answer that. We know the answer, don't we? 


You have a Dem senator currently under indictment who the Dims have not asked to step down. Clean up your own house before you start throwing rocks outta that glass house. 

Doomy
Doomy

@SGTGrit @Visual_Cortex


That's just VC and the prog's usual smear tactic. If there is a different view as to whether or not the young lady's story is true the progs then twist it into saying that you must be okay with child molestation. It's a weak and pathetic argument but then what do you expect from these brainless people.

Doomy
Doomy

@breckenridge @Doomy @Visual_Cortex


And you're automatically judging him guilty on an allegation from nearly 40 years ago. It's a he said she said and no one outside of the 2 of them really knows the truth. 


I think we have to administer the same standard we gave Bill Clinton when Juanita Broderick came forth with credible rape allegations from years earlier- though not quite 40 years. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Doomy @breckenridge @Visual_Cortex

Well you know old slick Willie the serial sex predator is the darling of the far-left Democrat toadies. Blatant hypocrisy anyone. One of the fools on here will likely come back and challenge me that Broderick was an adult and that the allegation against Moore, involved a minor female. I'll answer that one now. Fourteen year old girls can make themselves look very attractive and much older. Even if the allegation is true, Moore could have taken her to be much older. The age of consent in many states including Alabama is sixteen. The encounter was reported to be consensual. The allegation against Clinton was rape a felony offense.



bendedknee
bendedknee

Good analysis Kyle; I like Romney's too:


"“Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections,” Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, tweeted. “I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”


Moore alternated between 

1. I never met that 14 year old girl;

2. I dated teens when I was in my thirties;

3. I don't recall her  and finally:

4." I did not have sexual contact  with any teens I dated.

If that does not sound like something other than an outright denial of improper contact that bordered on illegal conduct, I  cannot  see  the "if proven" excuse unless you believe Bubba Bill never had sex with Monica.

Doomy
Doomy

@bendedknee


Nope. He's been consistent on all of it. One or 2 of the girls he does not remember and emphatically denies even knowing the 14 year old. And "sexual contact" generally means sex. 3 of them state that nothing other than kissing occurred. Plenty of people don't consider mere kissing and sometimes even oral sex to be "sexual contact". Just ask Bill Clinton- " I did not have sexual relations with that woman". 


And for the record neither oral sex or any type of penetration is alleged to have occurred. 


You should try being more honest in your statements. 

Doomy
Doomy

@bendedknee @Doomy


So Romney is grandstanding. So what?


I say we simply hold Moore to the same standard we held Bill Clinton when Juanita Broderick came forth with a credible rape allegation from years earlier- though it wasn't nearly 40 years when she came out with her allegation. 

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

There are also damaging allegations about Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, assuming you believe the women, which it seems most GOP don't. 

Doomy
Doomy

@Ychromosome


There are 30 or more women who are alleging these things including rape. In the case of Moore only one person the 14 year old  is alleging anything serious. And her allegation is that "touching" took place including kissing. 2of the other women were 19 and were of legal age. And even then they allege only kissing. 


If you're going to make a comparison you should at least get your facts straight.