Republican leaders are calling on Roy Moore, the far-right U.S. Senate nominee from Alabama, to withdraw his candidacy if reports are true that he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is among the GOP leaders who have called on Moore to step aside.
Leigh Corfman told reporters that Moore met her several times when she was 14 and he was a local prosecutor in his 30s. On one occasion he gave her alcohol and stripped both of them down to their underwear. Corfman said Moore groped her and put her hand on his genitals, according to the Washington Post.
“I wasn’t ready for that — I had never put my hand on a man’s penis, much less an erect one,” Corfman told the newspaper.
The report stated that Moore took Corfman home after she told him that she felt uneasy.
In addition to Corfman, who is now 53, three other women interviewed by the Post in recent weeks said that Moore pursued them while they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. None of the women claimed that Moore forced them into sexual contact.
In 2002, Moore was ordered to step down as chief justice after refusing to remove a stone monument of the Ten Commandments that he’d erected in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2016, he was suspended for refusing to recognize the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
Moore is the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was ousted twice for refusing to abide by federal rulings due to their incompatibility with his fundamentalist religious dogma.
In September, Moore won a hard-fought Republican primary election against state Sen. Luther Strange, who was backed by Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, supported Moore.
Establishment Republicans have been fearful that Moore’s candidacy could set up Alabama for the unthinkable — the election of Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones. Moore, a bombastic, self-styled preacher, is a source of embarrassment to the GOP.
Moore has refused Jones’ invitations to debate.
Moore's campaign chairman Bill Armistead released a statement denying the charges.
"Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today's Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake," Armistead wrote. "National liberal organizations know their chosen candidate Doug Jones is in a death spiral, and this is their last ditch Hail Mary."
The special election is to be held Dec. 12 to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was tapped by Donald Trump to serve is his Attorney General.
In addition to McConnell, a growing number of Republican leaders are calling on Moore to step down, perhaps because they think another candidate would lessen their chances of losing the state.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who chairs the Republican senatorial campaign committee, said, “The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling. … If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Others who have expressed concern include Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jeff Flake of Arizona echoed those comments, and John Cornyn of Texas.
This is a developing story.