WASHINGTON – A month before Alabama’s special election, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore faced allegations Thursday of sexual misconduct with minors decades ago — and an immediate backlash from party leaders who demanded he quit the race if the accusations prove true.
The instant fallout followed a Washington Post report in which an Alabama woman said that Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Three other women interviewed by the Post said Moore, now 70, also approached them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s.
The Moore campaign dismissed the report as “the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation.”
“Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake,” the campaign said, noting that Moore has been married to the same woman for 33 years and has four children and five grandchildren.
Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice, has made his name in Republican politics through his public devotion to hard line Christian conservative positions. He was twice removed from his Supreme Court position, once for disobeying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building, and later for urging state probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, senior Republicans swiftly called for Moore to step aside from the Senate race if the allegations are shown to be true. And the man he defeated in the Republican primary, current Sen. Luther Strange, left open the possibility he may re-enter the campaign.
“The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling,” said Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm. “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added, “If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”
Moore’s name cannot be removed from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election even if he withdraws from the race, according to John Bennett, a spokesman for the Alabama secretary of state.
The Post reported that Moore, then 32, first approached 14-year-old Leigh Corfman in early 1979 outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. After phone calls and meetings, he drove her to his home some days later and kissed her, the Post quoted Corfman as saying. On a second visit, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes except for his underwear before touching her over her bra and underpants, Corfman told the Post. He also guided her hand to touch him over his underwear, she said.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she told the Post. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
The Senate on Thursday backed a measure requiring anti-harassment training for all senators, staff and interns.
By voice vote, lawmakers adopted a resolution that says training must be done within 60 days and each Senate office would have to submit certification of completed training.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said, “Harassment of any kind is not and will not be tolerated in Congress.”