Roy Moore denied on Friday that he broke the law in dating young girls decades ago. Whether he had acted creepily, well, that was another matter.
Moore attempted to bat down allegations of sexual misconduct reported by The Washington Post on Thursday, but may have made matters even worse. The Alabama Senate candidate claimed never to have met Leigh Corfman, who told the Post that when she was 14 years old, Moore picked her up and forced himself on her sexually. But Moore was conspicuously more vague when pressed about allegations that he sexually pursued a 16-year-old girl and an 18-year-old.
During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio program on Friday afternoon, Moore claimed that Corman’s allegations were categorically false.
“These allegations are completely false and misleading,” Moore told Hannity.
“But more than that, it hurts me personally because you know, I’m a father. I have one daughter, I have five granddaughters, and I have a special concern for the protection of young ladies,” Moore continued.
Corfman told the Post that when she was 14 years old in 1979, when Moore himself was 32, the then-deputy district attorney kissed her and touched her over her bra and underwear and attempted to place her hand on his crotch.
“I’ve never talked to her, never had any contact with her,” Moore said of Corfman.
The Post interviewed three additional women who said Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, while he was in his early thirties.
During Hannity’s show, Moore acknowledged that he remembered the names of two women in the report: Debbie Wesson Gibson, who was around 17 in her account of his behavior, and Gloria Thacker Deason, who was around 18.
Moore went on to say, specifically about these two women, that he did not “remember going out on dates.”
Perhaps more disturbingly, though, Moore did acknowledge that when he returned to the United States after his service in the Vietnam War, he “dated a lot of young ladies.”
Moore’s interview with Hannity is unlikely to tamp down the white hot controversy that is now engulfing his campaign, as GOP senators said he should step down if the allegations are true and the Senate GOP’s campaign arm severed financial ties today.
Deason’s account to the Post included a detail about her alleged dates with Moore in which he would purchase Mateus Rose wine.
Pressed on this specific detail, Moore told Hannity: “She said she believed she was underaged. As I recall she was 19 or older. I never provided intoxicating liquor to a minor. I seem to remember her as a good girl.”
Asked more generally whether he had dated anyone in their late teens when he was in his early thirties, Moore said “not generally, no.”
And then backtracked a bit saying: “I don’t remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
Moore later added that dating someone half or nearly half his age would be “out of my customary behavior.”
Later in the interview, he went on the offensive, claiming without evidence that “We’re also doing an investigation and we have some evidence of collusion here.” But Moore claimed that they would reveal what that may be at a later date.
Hannity asked Moore directly if someone who did what the Post alleged should be permitted to be a Senate candidate.
“If you abuse a 14-year-old you shouldn’t be a Senate candidate. I agree with that,” Moore said. “But I did not do that.”