Al­le­ga­tions de­rail race

Woman ac­cused Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date of sex­ual as­sault when she was 14

The Beacon Herald - - WORLD NEWS - STEVE PEO­PLES THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­cans weren’t sup­posed to have to worry about Alabama.

Yet in the span of a tu­mul­tuous af­ter­noon, a low-pro­file spe­cial elec­tion be­came a Repub­li­can night­mare that threat­ens a once-safe Se­nate seat — and of­fers a new win­dow into ugly di­vi­sions that con­tinue to plague the GOP in the age of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore, a 70-year-old for­mer state Supreme Court jus­tice, de­fi­antly de­nied al­le­ga­tions of decades-old sex­ual mis­con­duct with mi­nors pub­lished Thurs­day in a Wash­ing­ton Post story. The rev­e­la­tions, a month be­fore the Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion, trig­gered a sharp back­lash from would-be Repub­li­can col­leagues on Capi­tol Hill, who called on Moore to quit the race if the al­le­ga­tions were true.

But on the ground in Alabama, lo­cal Repub­li­cans showed lit­tle sign of turn­ing their backs on Moore. Some lashed out at his al­leged vic­tims.

“If they be­lieve this man is preda­tory, they are guilty of al­low­ing him to ex­ist for 40 years. I think some­one should pros­e­cute and go af­ter them. You can’t be a vic­tim 40 years later, in my opin­ion,” state Rep. Ed Henry told The Cull­man Times.

“It’s mud­sling­ing at its best,” said one of Moore’s neigh­bours, 45-year-old Chris Hop­per of Al­toona, Ala. He added, “Why not vote for some­body that’s got good Chris­tian val­ues?”

In Wash­ing­ton, how­ever, the con­tro­versy marked a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment for some in the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment who ar­gued that Moore, a Chris­tian cul­ture war­rior twice re­moved from his state’s Supreme Court for ju­di­cial mis­con­duct, never should have been the party’s Se­nate nom­i­nee in the first place. Some blamed Steve Ban­non, Trump’s for­mer se­nior strate­gist, who broke from most GOP lead­ers — in­clud­ing Trump him­self — by cheer­ing Moore’s can­di­dacy ear­lier in the year.

“Dear GOP, send your thank you cards to the Bre­it­bart em­bassy attn: Steve Ban­non,” tweeted a sar­cas­tic Josh Holmes, a for­mer aide to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

The White House said Trump be­lieves Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore “will do the right thing and step aside” if sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions against him are true. Press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders told re­porters trav­el­ling with Trump in Asia that the pres­i­dent be­lieves a “mere al­le­ga­tion” — es­pe­cially one from many years ago — shouldn’t be al­lowed to de­stroy a per­son’s life.

But San­ders said: “The pres­i­dent also be­lieves that if these al­le­ga­tions are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”

Across Wash­ing­ton, the calls from anx­ious Repub­li­cans for Moore to step aside if the al­le­ga­tions proved true grew as the hours passed on Thurs­day. They in­cluded Trump, McCon­nell and Cruz, House Free­dom Cau­cus Chair­man Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., and Alabama’s own se­nior sen­a­tor, Richard Shelby.

Moore showed no signs of go­ing qui­etly, vow­ing in a fundrais­ing mes­sage dis­trib­uted in the midst of Thurs­day’s chaos to “NEVER GIVE UP the fight!” as he cast his strug­gle as a “spir­i­tual bat­tle.”

It’s too late for Moore’s name to 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. A write-in cam­paign re­mains pos­si­ble, Ben­nett added.

In Alabama, many re­sponded with a col­lec­tive shrug.

“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult car­pen­ter. They be­came par­ents of Je­sus,” Alabama state au­di­tor Jim Ziegler told The Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner.

Alabama res­i­dent Becky Ash­ley dis­missed the sit­u­a­tion as a ploy by Demo­cratic can­di­date Doug Jones, a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney. “I don’t be­lieve them at all,” Ash­ley said. “I be­lieve this is Doug Jones, some of his do­ings, you know. I just don’t be­lieve Roy Moore would do that.”

Moore was twice re­moved from his state Supreme Court po­si­tion, once for dis­obey­ing a fed­eral court or­der to re­move a 2,350-kg gran­ite 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 gay mar­riage.

He said more re­cently that Rep. Keith El­li­son, D -Minn., should not be al­lowed to serve in Congress be­cause he’s a Mus­lim.

The Post re­ported that Moore, then a 32-year-old district at­tor­ney, ap­proached 14-year-old Leigh Corf­man in early 1979 out­side a court­room in Etowah County, Alabama.

Af­ter phone calls and meet­ings, he drove her to his home some days later and kissed her, the Post quotes 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.”

Three other women in­ter­viewed by the Post said Moore ap­proached them when they were be­tween the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s. All four women spoke on the record to the Post.

GETTY IM­AGES FILES

Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore is re­fus­ing to step aside ahead of a Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion in Alabama amid al­le­ga­tions from sev­eral women of sex­ual as­sault and mis­con­duct.

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