Roy Moore accuser Leigh Corfman speaks to the “Today” show:
A day after Alabama’s biggest newspapers ran a front-page editorial urging voters to reject Roy Moore, the woman who accuses the Republican U.S. Senate candidate of sexual misconduct with her when she was 14 and he was 32 conducted her first television interview, telling NBC’s “Today” show Monday morning she “didn’t deserve to have a 32-year-old man prey upon” her.
Corfman, one of four accusers featured in a Washington Post story earlier this month, said that in 1979, after taking her to his house, Moore took off her “shirt and pants and removed his clothes,” touched her “over her bra and underpants” and “guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.” Since the Post story, five other women have alleged misconduct by Moore when they were teens and he was in his 30s, including Beverly Young Nelson, who alleges Moore sexually assaulted her in 1977 when she 16 and working as a waitress in a restaurant in Moore’s hometown of Gadsden.
Moore – the Republican nominee in the special election Dec. 12 for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions – has repeatedly denied all of the allegations, declaring he is “not guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone” and is the victim of a politically motivated attack.
Corfman said she told others of the alleged incident after it occurred but didn’t make her accusation public sooner because she wanted to protect her children from the fallout.
She said that when the Post contacted her, she agreed to tell her story if the paper found additional accusers.
“I didn’t go looking for this, it fell in my lap,” she said.
Corfman said she’s voted Republican for many years and insisted “this isn’t political for me.”
On Sunday, the joint editorial board of the Alabama Media Group – which publishes the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register and AL.com – called the accusations against Moore “horrifying, but not shocking,” reported Business Insider, and endorsed the Democratic nominee, Doug Jones.
“How can we look our neighbors, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat?” the board wrote. “How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?”
While national Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have called on Moore to step aside, the Alabama Republican Party last week decided to support him, concluding “Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election – not the media or those from afar.”
Also, the 5th District Congressional District GOP Executive Committee of Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., last week voted unanimously to back Moore.
Before the Post story, Moore had a double-digit lead over Jones, according to polls, but the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls now has the race neck and neck.
In Corfman’s interview Monday with “Today,” host Savannah Guthrie, noting the suggestions of some defenders of Moore, asked her if she was paid. Corfman said no, adding “if anything, this has cost me” financially, because she has taken leave from her job since the Post reported her accusations.
Corfman said she felt guilty after the alleged incident.
“I felt like I was the one to blame. It was decades before I was able to let that go,” she said.
Kayla Moore: ‘We’re in a battle’
Over the weekend, Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, spoke out in defense of her husband, confirming he will not drop out of the race despite a growing number of Republicans urging him to step aside.
“After all the attacks against me, against my family and against my husband, he will not step down,” Kayla Moore said. “We’re in a battle. Thank you for your prayers.”
Last Thursday, Moore was joined by supporters, including his pastor and other Christian leaders, at a news conference in Birmingham, Alabama, in which he once again strongly denied the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, calling them “scurrilous.”
Moore also accused McConnell of trying to “steal this election from the people of Alabama.”
The day before, ABC News reported an Alabama woman, Becky Gray, accused Moore of sexually harassing her in the late 1970s and said he was banned from the mall where she worked after she complained of his repeated, unwanted advances. Also Wednesday, AL.com reported a Gadsden, Alabama, woman, Tina Johnson, claimed Moore groped her while she was in his law office on legal business with her mother in 1991.
On Monday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, seemed to soften her position on Moore, warning Republicans that his Democratic opponent could harm the Republican tax-reform plan, the Washington Times reported.
“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” she told Fox News.
The Times said that when Conway was asked whether or not Alabama voters should choose Moore, she continued to cite Jones’ politics and mentioned the allegations of sexual misconduct that arose last week against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
Last Thursday, however, when discussing the allegations against Moore in a Fox News interview, Conway said: “There is no Senate seat worth more than a child.”
The last time Democrats won a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama was 1992. The winner will serve the remaining two years of Sessions’ term.
Jones, who has never run for office, opposes “tax cuts for the rich” and favors an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and abortion rights.
‘These women have no reason to lie’
Last Wednesday, ABC News reported an Alabama woman, Becky Gray, accused Moore of sexually harassing her in the late 1970s, and AL.com reported a Gadsden, Alabama, woman, Tina Johnson, claimed Moore groped her while she was in his law office on legal business with her mother in 1991.
Gray told ABC she has grown increasingly frustrated with critics who continue to question the veracity of the claims of other women.
“These women have no reason to lie about their sexual encounters … so I just don’t understand people that don’t believe that it’s true. There’s a lot of shame to this, and for those women who did have sexual encounters with Moore, I commend them for coming out – I really do. It’s about time.”
AL.com on Wednesday also featured an interview with Kelly Harrison Thorp, who said she was 17 and working as a hostess at the Red Lobster restaurant in Gadsden in 1982 when Moore, in his early 30s at the time, came into the restaurant and asked her to out out on a date with him sometime.
Thorp told AL.com that when she asked Moore if he knew how old she was, he replied: “Yeah. I go out with girls your age all the time.”
Thorp said she knows Corfman and believes she is telling the truth.
In a radio interview Nov. 10 with Sean Hannity, Moore, adamantly denied the allegation by Corfman. But Moore left open the possibility that he dated the older teens who had come forward, saying he didn’t remember, before unequivocally stating he did not date any teens when he was in his 30s when Hannity asked for clarification.
On Nov. 14, Hannity delivered an ultimatum to Moore, saying the former judge needed to explain the discrepancy in the Friday interview and the evidence Allred and Nelson presented at their news conference Monday, a Gadsden High School yearbook that Nelson says Moore signed just days before the alleged attack.
Moore’s attorney, Phillip L. Jauregui, at a news conference Nov. 15, asked Allred to turn over a high school yearbook she had presented as evidence that includes an alleged inscription by Moore. Jauregui wants it to be inspected by a handwriting expert, because his team believes the inscription is a forgery. Taking no questions, Jauregui also claimed Nelson falsely asserted she had had no contact with Moore since the alleged 1977 incident, pointing out Moore presided over her divorce case in 1999. However, court documents show another judge also was involved in the case, and there was no hearing, meaning there is no evidence that Nelson was in a courtroom with Moore.
Breitbart News reported an attorney for Moore delivered a letter to Allred on Nov. 16 giving her 48 hours to release the yearbook to the custody of an independent examiner. The letter also demanded that Allred and Nelson issue a “full and fair public retraction” of all “false statements” concerning Moore.
Charges that the yearbook inscription is a forgery have circulated on social media. Heavy.com reported a photo shared initially on Twitter by CNN appears to show that part of the inscription was written in blue ink and another in black ink. However, other photos of the yearbook show only black ink. And some have pointed out that the accuser’s red nail polish also looks like a different shade in the CNN photo than it does in other photos.
CNN’s tweet appears to show two different colors of ink:
Beverly Young Nelson said Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore wrote a message in her yearbook in December 1977 that said, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say, ‘Merry Christmas.'”
— CNN (@CNN) November 13, 2017
Handwriting analysts who have been asked to assess the photos of the inscription have told media outlets it’s impossible to determine whether or not it’s a forgery without examining the actual yearbook along with numerous handwriting samples from Moore dating back to the 1970s.
In his reply to Hannity, Moore wrote: “My signature on the order of dismissal in the divorce case was annotated with the letters ‘D.A.,’ representing the initials of my court assistant. Curiously the supposed yearbook inscription is also followed by the same initials – ‘D.A.’ But at that time I was Deputy District Attorney, not district attorney.”
Moore said he believed the “initials as well as the date under the signature block and the printed name of the restaurant are written in a style inconsistent with the rest of the yearbook inscription.”
On his Fox News Channel program Nov. 15, Hannity responded to Moore’s letter.
The host said allegations against Moore “are beyond disturbing and serious,” but he said more time is needed to make a conclusion and, ultimately, the people of Alabama will decide.
“I am very confident that when everything comes out, they will make the best decision for their state,” Hannity said.
Republicans exploring options
The Republican leadership is said to be exploring an alternative to Moore in the Alabama Senate race.
McConnell and his top advisers are discussing the legal feasibility of asking Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year when Sessions became attorney general, to resign to trigger a new special election, Politico reported last week.
However, McConnell aides expressed caution, saying they’re uncertain the move is possible, and they are discussing several options.
A survey conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee after the allegations against Moore emerged showed him trailing Jones by 12 points, although other recent polling has the race closer.
Politico said McConnell’s team had proposed asking Sessions, who held the Alabama seat for two decades prior to becoming attorney general, to run as a write-in candidate.
But the committee’s polling found that a write-in candidacy likely would split the Republican vote and ensure a Jones victory.
Republicans currently have a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate.
The top Senate Republican campaign official, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Nov. 13 that the Senate should move to expel Moore it he were to win the election.
“I believe the individuals speaking out against Roy Moore spoke with courage and truth, proving he is unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office,” said Gardner. “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Republican analysts view the Moore candidacy as a proxy battle between the party establishment, represented by McConnell, and former White House chief strategist Steven Bannon. Bannon has supported Moore as part of a broader effort to challenge incumbent Republicans with candidates who he believes will carry out President Trump’s agenda.
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are among the Republican lawmakers who have withdrawn their support of Moore.
Cruz said Nov. 13: “As it stands, I can’t urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious, persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true.
“Both last week and this week, there are serious charges of criminal conduct that, if true, not only make him unfit to serve in the Senate but merit criminal prosecution,” Cruz told reporters, according to the Texas Tribune.
On Nov. 10, Lee wrote in a tweet: “Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the US Senate.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has backed out of a joint fundraising effort with Moore because of the allegations.
However, after being largely silent on the allegations against Moore, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said Nov. 16 the state party supports him and trusts voters to make the “ultimate decision” in the Dec. 12 U.S. Senate election, AL.com reported
The 21-member the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee met Nov. 15 to discuss the allegations.
“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election – not the media or those from afar,” Lathan said in a statement.
The evening of Nov. 16, the 5th District Congressional District GOP Executive Committee of Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., voted unanimously to back Moore.
Leaders of a number of Christian organizations joined Moore at the press conference Thursday in Birmingham and presented a letter declaring their support.
“We stand with Judge Roy Moore, a man of integrity who has never wavered from his valiant defense of the unborn, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution. We are confident the voters of Alabama will not be fooled by suspiciously timed accusations without evidence and will reject the politics of personal destruction led by the Washington Post,” the letter stated.
Moore’s pastor, Stephen Broden, said he has no reason to doubt him.
“Friends, I know the man and he is a man of character,” he said.
Former U.N. ambassador Alan Keyes of Renew America said he backs Moore because “we are creatures of god” and have a “duty to do what is right.”
Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, said she is a close friend of the Moore family and calls the accusations an “assassination led by the media”
“Why does the enemies of faith and liberty hate this man so much?” she asked.
When Nelson made her claims one week ago at a news conference with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, Moore’s campaign chairman, Bill Armistead, charged Allred was leading a “a sensationalist leading a witch hunt” against “a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character.”
“Let it be understood: the truth will come forward, we will pursue all legal options against these false claims and Judge Moore will be vindicated,” he said.
Nelson claims Moore had offered to give her a ride home from the restaurant where she worked. Instead, she says, he drove to an isolated area behind the restaurant, parked and “reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts.” She claims he locked the door when she tried to leave and “tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch.”
“I continued to struggle,” Nelson said, “I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.”
Nelson said that at some point “he gave up” and then told her: “You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.”
She said Moore “finally allowed me to open the car door and I either fell out or he pushed me out.”
“I was on the ground as he pulled out of the parking area behind the restaurant,” she said. “The passenger door was open as he burned rubber pulling away leaving me laying there on the cold concrete in the dark.”
Nelson said she went home and the following morning, “my neck was black and blue and purple.”