In ‘he said, she said,’ Moore loses

The Oklahoman - - OPINION - Rich Lowry @RichLowry

Roy Moore’s reputation de­pends on deny­ing that he dated teenage girls as a grown man, and yet he can’t quite bring him­self to do it. The Alabama Repub­li­can’s cam­paign for the Se­nate has been rocked by al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual im­pro­pri­eties with un­der­age girls. While he’s de­nied the worst of the al­le­ga­tions, he turned in a rocky per­for­mance in an in­ter­view with ra­dio talk-show host Sean Han­nity that lent cre­dence to the charges against him rather than dis­pelled them.

The al­leged con­duct dates back 40 years, and ab­sent some dif­fi­cult-to-imag­ine doc­u­men­tary proof, it will al­ways be Moore’s word against that of his ac­cusers. In this con­test, Moore’s word is clearly the loser.

The Washington

Post broke the orig­i­nal story of a woman,

Leigh Corf­man, say­ing Moore touched her sex­u­ally when she was

14; two other women told the Post that Moore dated and kissed them when they were teenagers. Then an­other woman, Bev­erly Young Nel­son, ap­peared at a press con­fer­ence with lib­eral lawyer Glo­ria Allred and ac­cused Moore of try­ing to force him­self on her in his car when she was 16.

Moore nat­u­rally slammed the in­tegrity of the Post and Allred. None of Moore’s ac­cusers are lib­eral jour­nal­ists work­ing for The Washington Post, though. And Bev­erly Young Nel­son stip­u­lated that she and her hus­band voted for Don­ald Trump last year.

Moore’s other re­frain is to ask why, af­ter he’s been in the pub­lic eye for decades, are th­ese al­le­ga­tions com­ing out now, a month be­fore a Se­nate elec­tion?

It’s a fair ques­tion. But Moore, long a ra­dioac­tive fig­ure at the state level, has never felt the heat of the na­tional press corps quite like this. He just won a Se­nate pri­mary race that gained na­tional at­ten­tion as a front in a GOP civil war, and he’s gained new promi­nence at a time when women are, en masse, telling of their ex­pe­ri­ences with sex­ual ha­rassers.

Moore hasn’t done him­self any fa­vors. In the Han­nity in­ter­view, he first said, re­fer­ring to Leigh Corf­man and the other women in the Post re­port, “I’ve never known this woman or any­thing with re­gard to the other girls.” Then, in al­most the same breath, he con­ceded, “I do rec­og­nize how­ever the names of two th­ese young ladies.” Oh.

Of one of the girls, he said: “I don’t re­mem­ber go­ing out on dates. I knew her as a friend. If we did go on dates then we did.” How many men in their 30s are “friends” with teenage girls who they may or may not have dated? Then Moore said of th­ese two girls, “nei­ther of them have ever stated any in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior” — even though both of them said he dated and kissed them. Asked point­blank if he dated girls in their teens, he replied with the less than Sher­manesque, “Not gen­er­ally, no.”

Moore stren­u­ously de­nies Leigh Corf­man’s al­le­ga­tions, but she has cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence for her cred­i­bil­ity. The Post con­firmed that she told one friend at the time that she was see­ing an older man and an­other that she was see­ing Moore, and court records con­firm that her mother was at an Alabama court­house around the time Moore al­legedly of­fered to watch the 14-year-old Leigh while she at­tended a hear­ing.

No doubt, Moore will just as strongly re­ject Bev­erly Young Nel­son’s damn­ing story. She said Moore ex­pressed an in­ter­est in her when she was work­ing as a wait­ress and signed her high school year­book with a flirty mes­sage. Sure enough, she pro­duced the year­book with a cringe-in­duc­ing in­scrip­tion say­ing how beau­ti­ful she is, signed, “Love, Roy Moore.”

At this point, there are two op­tions: Ei­ther sev­eral women who don’t know one an­other have de­cided to take the enor­mous per­sonal risk of mak­ing up sto­ries about Roy Moore in a vast po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy, or a politi­cian caught up in a scan­dal with every in­cen­tive to dis­sem­ble is do­ing it — and not very well.

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