A woman has said Roy Moore, former Alabama chief justice turned Republican U.S. Senate candidate, initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was underage, according to a bombshell report from The Washington Post Thursday. The allegations sparked numerous calls from Republicans across the country for Moore to step down as the GOP nominee or be disqualified as a candidate for Senate.
The encounters involved kissing and sexual contact at Moore's Etowah County home in the 1970s. Moore, 18 years older than her, in his 30s at the time, initiated the encounters when the woman was younger than the legal age of consent in Alabama.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby joined a chorus of other Republican leaders on Thursday in distancing themselves from Moore.
"If these allegations are true, there is no place for Roy Moore in the United States Senate," Shelby said in a statement. Shelby had supported Moore's opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, in the primary. He had not yet endorsed Moore when the story broke.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, whom some Republican senators were calling on to remove Moore from the ballot, said she was disturbed by the allegations. Moore's name, election officials have said, cannot be removed from the ballot now.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing," Ivey said. "I will hold judgment until we know the facts. The people of Alabama deserve to know the truth and will make their own decisions.”
The Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative Republican Super PAC that aligns itself with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, called for "Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Republican Party" to "do everything in their power to remove Judge Moore from the ballot. There is no place in our party for sexual predators."
Moore's name has already been printed on the special election ballot. With the election a little more than a month away, many absentee voters have already cast their ballots. If Moore is disqualified somehow, Republicans would be forced to launch a write-in campaign.
But that didn't stop Republican leaders across the country from calling on him to step out of the race.
"If there is any shred of truth to the allegations against Roy Moore, he should step aside immediately," said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, on Twitter Thursday.
Arizona's senior senator, John McCain, also a Republican, took a stronger stance, saying, "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."
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
Leigh Corfman, now 53, told the Post, over the course of several interviews, that Moore approached her outside of an Etowah County courtroom when she was with her mother. At the time, Corfman was 14 years old. They were at the courthouse for a custody hearing.
When her mother went into the courtroom, Moore, then a 32-year-old upstart assistant district attorney, offered to stay with Corfman outside the court while her mother attended the hearing. They exchanged numbers and he asked if they could meet up
He later arranged to pick her up. Corfman says that Moore took her to his home in a rural area of Etowah County on two separate occasions. He picked her up and kissed her on one of the trips, according to the Post report. On the next trip, Moore took off his clothes and undressed her while trying to direct her to touch his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” Corfman said, recounting her experience to the Post. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
She said when he tried to get her to touch his under, she yanked her hand back.
“I wasn’t ready for that — I had never put my hand on a man’s penis, much less an erect one,” Corfman said, and she remembered thinking, "I don't want to do this. ... I need to get out of here." She asked for Moore to take her home, and he did.
At the time, Moore was a well-liked attorney in Etowah County, where the encounter took place. He had attended West Point Military Academy and the University of Alabama School of Law. Corfman said she was excited but nervous, at the time a young girl, about an older man giving her attention.
“I was kind of giddy, excited, you know? An older guy, you know?” Corfman told the Post. Up until that point, she had not had any other sexual experiences with men other than kissing boys her age, she said.
Three other women who spoke with the Post said Moore also tried to pursue them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, though Corfman was the youngest of the women Moore tried to seduce. The women told the Post that Moore gave them alcohol. Many of the older women's mothers encouraged them because of Moore's standing in the community.
Corfman was the only victim with whom Moore initiated sexual contact, though they did not have intercourse. However, sexual contact between someone older than 19 and another person who is between the ages of 12 and 16 is against the law.
Contact would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison while enticing someone under the age of 16 to his home with the purpose of
The statute of limitations ran out on the felony charge in 1979.
"After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now," said Moore's campaign manager Bill Armistead in a statement. "Judge Roy Moore is winning with a double-digit lead. So it is no surprise, with just over four weeks remaining, in a race for the U.S. Senate with national implications, that the Democratic Party and the country’s most liberal newspaper would come up with a fabrication of this kind."
Moore called the allegations "completely false and a desperate political attack."
The Post reported that the women did not approach or seek out reporters. Instead, Post reporters who were on the ground in Alabama covering the election sought out the women themselves after hearing rumors that Moore had inappropriate relationships with underage women when he was younger. Several childhood friends of Corfman and her mother confirmed her account. The Post said her story was consistent through four separate interviews and court records back up her timeline.