Sex scan­dal hits ‘Ten Com­mand­ments judge’

Alabama Se­nate can­di­date ac­cused of hav­ing sex­ual con­tact with girl, 14, in 1979

Toronto Star - - NEWS - DANIEL DALE WASH­ING­TON BUREAU CHIEF

WASH­ING­TON— He was “the Ten Com­mand­ments judge,” a self-pro­claimed de­fender of Chris­tian right­eous­ness. He founded a group called the Foun­da­tion for Moral Law, warned of the dan­ger of Mus­lims, ac­cused gay peo­ple of per­ver­sion. Now he is ac­cused of a sex crime. Roy Moore, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for an open U.S. Se­nate seat in Alabama, was plunged into an ex­plo­sive scan­dal on Thurs­day when the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported that an Alabama woman al­leges that Moore had sex­ual con­tact with her in 1979 when she was 14 and he was a 32year-old as­sis­tant dis­trict at­tor­ney.

The Post also found three other women who said Moore pur­sued them when he was in his early 30s and they were teens. One was 16, one was 17 and one was 18. Those three women said he did not force them into sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties.

But Leigh Corf­man, who was 14 at the time, said he picked her up out­side a court­house, then, days later, kissed her.

“On a se­cond visit,” the Post re­ported, “he took off her shirt and pants and re­moved his clothes. He touched her over her bra and un­der­pants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his un­der­wear.”

The age of con­sent in Alabama was, and is, 16. Corf­man, who said she voted for Don­ald Trump in 2016, did not re­port the in­ci­dents to po­lice be­fore the statute of lim­i­ta­tions ex­pired. Corf­man’s ac­cu­sa­tions rocked a race in which Moore was a strong favourite to win. And it put Repub­li­cans in a bind: be­cause the elec­tion to re­place At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions is less than five weeks away, it would be too late to re­move Moore’s name from the bal­lot even if he wanted to with­draw.

Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress and Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence were united in call­ing for Moore to leave the race — if, they spec­i­fied, the accu- sa­tion were true. Some, such as Sen. John McCain, were more force­ful, call­ing for Moore to with­draw im­me­di­ately.

It was not clear whether Moore could be in­flu­enced by party pres­sure. He is known for his de­fi­ance, hav­ing been twice kicked out of his job as Alabama’s chief jus­tice for re­fus­ing to ac­cept the rul­ings of other courts, and he was se­lected as nom­i­nee over the op­po­si­tion of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

Moore de­liv­ered a scathing at­tack on the Post along with ve­he­ment de­nial on Thurs­day, say­ing “this garbage is the very def­i­ni­tion of fake news and in­ten­tional defama­tion.” In an au­da­cious re­sponse, he sent out a fundrais­ing email ask­ing for do­na­tions to fight the al­le­ga­tions.

The scan­dal boosts the Democrats’ chances in a race about which some had al­ready been cau­tiously op­ti­mistic be­cause of Moore’s po­lar­iz­ing his­tory of far-right be­hav­iour and big­otry. Their can­di­date, lawyer Doug Jones, was tied with Moore in one re­cent poll and down less than 10 points in two oth­ers.

The stakes are high. A Demo­cratic up­set would give the Se­nate 49 Democrats to go with 51 Repub­li­cans.

But Alabama is one of the coun­try’s most re­li­ably Repub­li­can states, and Moore re­ceived strong sup­port from lo­cal party ac­tivists across Alabama. Their re­sponse was an­other sign of the in­tense par­ti­san­ship that has gripped much of the U.S. right over the last decade.

Five Repub­li­can county chair­men told the Star they be­lieved the al­le­ga­tions were false. One of them said he would vote for Moore even if there were proof Moore had abused a girl.

“I would vote for Judge Moore be­cause I wouldn’t want to vote for Doug,” Bibb County chair­per­son Jerry Pow said. “I’m not say­ing I sup­port what he did.”

Cov­ing­ton County chair­per­son Wil­liam Blocker also said he’d con­sider vot­ing for Moore even if hard ev­i­dence of sex­ual abuse emerged.

“There is no op­tion to sup­port Doug Jones, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee. When you do that, you are sup­port­ing the en­tire Demo­crat party,” he said.

Geneva County chair­per­son Ri­ley Seiben­hener said he did not think Moore should with­draw even if the al­le­ga­tions were true.

“Other than be­ing with an un­der­age per­son — he didn’t re­ally force him­self,” Seiben­hener said. “I know that’s bad enough, but I don’t know. If he with­draws, it’s five weeks to the elec­tion . . . that would con­cede it to the Demo­crat.”

“It was 40 years ago,” Marion County chair­per­son David Hall said. “I re­ally don’t see the rel­e­vance of it. He was 32. She was sup­pos­edly 14.” He added, in­cor­rectly, “She’s not say­ing that any­thing hap­pened other than they kissed.”

NATHAN MOR­GAN FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Judge Roy Moore ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing “this garbage is the very def­i­ni­tion of fake news and in­ten­tional defama­tion.”

Leigh Corf­man, left, with her mother, Nancy Wells, around 1979 when Corf­man was 14 years old.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.