Right-wing Republican Roy Moore called the verdict a “great victory” after a jury in an emotionally charged trial found he was not defamed by an allegation that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl while he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
Moore was seeking monetary damages from Leigh Corfman, who detailed her allegations in a 2017 Washington Post report, describing how in 1979, he removed her clothing and touched her over her bra and underpants and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
The verdict came after six days of testimony, including women who testified that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 15 and 18 years old and character witnesses that described Moore as an honest, Godly and unwavering figure.
The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was twice removed from that position, once for refusing a federal court’s order to remove a marble monument of the Ten Commandments that he had placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building and then for defying a U.S. Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).
Democratic Senator Doug Jones defeated Moore in 2017 special election, to become the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. In 2020, Jones lost to Republican Tommy Tuberville, who holds the seat.
During his special election campaign, several public allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Moore. Three women stated that he had sexually assaulted them when they were at the respective ages of 14, 16 and 28.
Moore acknowledged that he may have approached and dated teenagers while he was in his 30s, but denied that any of the girls were underage or that he had sexually assaulted anyone.
“I never knew Ms. Corfman,” Moore said. “I never knew her, never took her to my home, she was never in my car. I didn’t telephone her. … I don’t know her.”
Then-President Donald Trump—who faced allegations of sexual misconduct involving dozens of women—endorsed Moore a week before the election, while a number of other Republicans withdrew their support.
After allegations surfaced, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a handful of other GOP lawmakers called on Moore to step aside, among them were John McCain of Arizona, David Perdue of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.
US Senator Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican from Arizona, made a $100 donation to the Democrat’s campaign and wrote “country over party” on the check, after Jones said, “Men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not the US Senate.”
Three other women said that Moore pursued a relationship with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, while he was in his early 30s
Wendy Miller says she was 14 and working as a Santa’s helper at the Gadsden Mall when Moore first approached her, and 16 when he asked her on dates, which her mother forbade.
Debbie Wesson Gibson says she was 17 when Moore spoke to her high school civics class and asked her out on the first of several dates that did not progress beyond kissing.
Gloria Thacker Deason says she was an 18-year-old cheerleader when Moore began taking her on dates that included bottles of Mateus Rosé wine. The legal drinking age in Alabama was 19.