During the latter part of 2017, sexual assault came to the forefront of American political discourse, thanks largely to the downfall of Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, which itself is the product of budding journalist Ronan Farrow’s scathing (and Pulitzer-worthy) bombshell report about the litany of sexual assault claims against him. Following Weinstein came a succession of other figures meeting the same fate. Pedestals fell out from under the likes of actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K., NBC news anchor Matt Lauer, and even Senator Al Franken. The hyper-focus on the sexual assault virulently present in American society also prompted Time Magazine to declare the Silence Breakers — or the “#MeToo” movement — as their Person(s) of the Year, usurping such prominent lightning rods as the polarizing President Donald Trump, his potential adversary in Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the existentially-in-crisis DREAMERS, and former NFL player-turned-social activist Colin Kaepernick.
Even though Farrow’s report has sent media and political figures to the gallows, not everyone is on board with every incident that becomes public knowledge. In Alabama, a special election is taking place that will test the importance of this social wildfire in an arena where it is needed most: to determine who takes over the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions following his appointment to the head of the U.S. Justice Department.
On one hand, there is a Democratic challenger in Doug Jones. He’s charismatic and has a plan for the welfare of Alabama that isn’t hinged on such open-ended guarantees as God, guns, and good ‘ol Southern hospitality. However, he is a Democrat, and in a state like Alabama, to be a Democrat is akin to punching a pastor in the dick, declaring yourself an atheist, and engaging in homosexual sex acts while burning the church down — during Sunday services. But despite his political affiliations, Doug Jones has shown he is capable, and it’s not like he isn’t without support. Even some Republicans have thrown themselves into his camp.
The person he’s challenging, however, has been the heir apparent since wiping the floor with another challenger, the temporary incumbent Luther Strange, several weeks back in a Republican Primary runoff election. Roy Moore is, in many ways, the epitome of what it means to be an Alabaman. He prioritizes God over even his country’s borderline-sacred Constitution. He’s garnered support from the NRA and several well-known conservative groups. He loathes what he believes to be “political correctness” and viciously attacks the “liberal media.” He paints himself as a maverick challenging creeping liberalism with six-shooters that may as well have been baptized on the taint of Ronald Reagan himself.
Roy Moore has even garnered support from President Donald Trump, which for some reason seems to be a good enough reason for many to support him. But here’s where these narratives converge. Sexual assault is front and center in this race.
Despite the poll numbers that show Roy Moore winning next week to varying degrees, he shares much with the embattled figures who have recently been “Me-Too’d” into the cold recesses of social pariahdom. Moore himself is in the midst of significant sexual assault claims. The only real difference between him and Franken, Lauer, and Weinstein is that the allegations against Moore involve minors.
At the core of the allegations is Leigh Corfman, who was 14 years old when she was approached by Moore outside of a courtroom in Etowah County, Alabama in 1979. Moore was, at the time, a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, was at the courthouse because of a child custody hearing. Moore offered to keep an eye on the teenager, telling her mother that she “didn’t want [Leigh] to hear [what was said in the courtroom],” which Wells initially thought was an altruistic gesture. Moore and Corfman chatted for a while, which resulted in Moore getting her phone number.
Several days later, Moore picked up Corfman from her neighborhood in Gadsden and took her 30 miles away, to his place in the woods. He told her how pretty she was. He kissed her. He made her take off her clothes. He fondled her through her bra and underwear. He made her fondle him through his underwear. The entire exchange was horrifying to Corfman, who demanded he take her home when he had his fill.
Along with Corfman are several other accusers, all of whom were between the ages of 16 and 18, while Moore was in his early 30’s. Gloria Deason was an 18-year-old cheerleader when Moore began bringing her bottles of wine, despite the legal drinking age in Alabama being 19 at the time. Wendy Miller met Moore when she was 14 and working a holiday job at the Gadsden Mall, which progressed into Moore asking her for dates at the age of 16. Debbie Gibson was 17 when Moore spoke to her high school civics class, then asked her out on several dates that never progressed intimately beyond kissing.
In 1991, Roy Moore is alleged to have grabbed 28-year-old Tina Johnson’s buttocks during a child custody transfer meeting.
When Kelly Thorp was a 17-year-old waitress at Red Lobster, Moore, then in his 30’s, repeatedly asked her out. When she asked him if he knew how old she was, he replied, “I go out with girls your age all the time.” Thorp rejected him.
Gena Richardson met Moore while working in a Sears at the Gadsden Mall. She was a senior in high school. Richardson claims she didn’t give Moore her phone number, so he resorted to calling her at school to ask her out. She agreed and says that as she was getting out of his car, he pulled her back in and forced a kiss on her, terrifying the girl. Her account is corroborated by classmates and another woman who worked with Richardson at the time.
Further insights into Moore’s predatory behavior came from Becky Gray, who also worked at a mall, and Phyllis Smith, who warned other mall employees to “watch out for this guy.”
A former colleague of Moore’s stated “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls,” a claim that has been corroborated by several current and former resident of Etowah County. Moore was also banned from the Gadsden Mall in the early 1980s for picking up teenage girls.
This is the guy running for Jeff Sessions’ old seat.
We can speak at length about his professional controversies, which include twice leaving the bench of the Alabama Supreme Court under dubious circumstances. But that shouldn’t matter here. All that matters when it comes to the matter of Roy Moore is the fact that he is a sexual predator with a history of stalking minors. Most of these incidents may date back to the late 1970s, but time should never be factor in making this kind of determination.
At the end of the day, Roy Moore is a sexual predator running for Congress. That should be all that anyone needs to know when making a decision on whether or not he deserves to be there. Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator and he was forced out of the company he built. That was enough to force him out. Matt Lauer is a sexual predator and he was forced out of NBC. That was enough to force him out. Al Franken is a sexual predator and he resigned from Congress. That was enough to force his resignation. Hell, Jared Fogle is an actual pedophile and not only was his likeness scrubbed from Subway’s history, he is incarcerated for it. So, why should anyone approach Roy Moore any differently?
Right, because his challenger is a Democrat and if there’s one thing that’s worse than being a sexual predator and a pedophile in Alabama, it’s being a Democrat.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain. Edited by the author.