In an explosive report that, if accurate, could potentially swing a race for Jeff Session's old Senate seat to the Democrats, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is being accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl back in 1979, when he was 32.
Moore handily won the Republican primary in the race to fill Session's old seat back in September, and was gearing up to face Democrat and former US Attorney Doug Jones in a special election next month.
The allegatios have elicited howls of outrage from Democrats and Republicans alike, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding that Moore 'step aside' if the allegations are true.
Moore’s accuser, Leigh Corfman, is now 53, and she said she met Moore when he offered to watch her during her mother's child custody hearing. Moore, at the time, served as an assistant district attorney. Corfman said Moore asked for her phone number, and that the two met on two more occasions. On the first, the two kissed. During the second, she said Moore removed his clothes, took off her shirt and pants, and touched her over her bra and underpants, but did not have sexual intercourse.
WaPo also found three other women who said that Moore had approached them around a similar time, when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
McConnell on Roy Moore: “If these allegations are true, he must step aside."— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 9, 2017
Republican Senator John McCain said the allegations against Moore are "deeply disturbing" and echoed McConnell's call for Moore to 'step aside.'
The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 9, 2017
Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told WSJ: “The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling.” He added: “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
All three of those women said that they never had any sexual contact with Moore outside of kissing. One 18-year-old high schooler told the paper that Moore would bring bottles of wine on their dates, even though the legal drinking age in Alabama was 19 back then. One woman said she first met Moore when she was a 14-year-old working as “Santa’s helper” at a mall. He began asking her out when she was 16 years old.
Another woman, Debbie Wesson Gibson, said that Moore asked her out after he spoke to her high school civics class when she was 17. And Gloria Thacker Deason told the paper that Moore gave her wine while on dates when she was 18. Moore and his campaign have denied the allegations.
“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore, now 70, said.
His campaign added that “this garbage is the very definition of fake news” and that the accusations would have surfaced at an earlier point in his political career if true.
Moore – who is best known for his stand against a federal court order to remove a statute of the ten commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court during the early Bush years – defeated establishment favorite (and Trump-backed candidate) Luther Strange in the primary runoff vote and will face the Democratic challenger in a special election later this year. However, these allegations threaten to upend his campaign.
As of Thursday, Moore led the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls by a 6 point margin. The two most recent polls had Moore up by 11, but the third most-recent, from Fox News, showed the race tied.
That shrinking margin is giving Democrats hope. But the party has so far resisted flooding the state with resources to benefit Jones because some political genius told them that their candidate would somehow be better off without the national party’s help. And after Donna Brazile’s bombshell revelations in her new book, they may have a point...
If Moore does drop out of the race, his departure will be an unmitigated victory for McConnell and President Donald Trump, both of whom backed Moore's primary challenger, "Big Luther" Strange, whom Moore defeated by a wide margin. Moore's triumph was seen as a major victory for the anti-establishment Bannon wing of the party. Bannon even went down to Alabama to campaign for Moore two days after his old boss made an appearance at a Luther Strange rally.
To be sure, Moore's not out yet. He has managed to hold on to his lead in the polls despite a barrage of negative stories about his finances. But his once-unassailable position has never looked more imperiled.