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Roy Moore says he is being “harassed” by the media, threatens lawsuit against AL.com

Chip Brownlee

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By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

An attorney for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, his wife Kayla Moore and their Foundation for Moral Law is demanding retractions from AL.com over the news site’s coverage of recent sexual misconduct allegations against Moore.

In a letter addressed to AL.com’s attorney, Moore’s attorney demanded a retraction over what he said was “false,” “malicious” and “careless” reporting. The attorney, Trenton R. Garmon, said he is preparing to file a lawsuit against AL.com and its reporters. Garmon threatened a lawsuit against the Washington Post last week for their reporting on Moore’s financial dealings with the Foundation.

Garmon has yet to file that lawsuit.

AL.com is one of dozens of news outlets that have covered allegations against Moore over the last week. Two women have come forward, on the record, alleging Moore sexually assaulted them. At least three other women have said Moore pursued them when they were in their teens, between the ages of 16-18.

Garmon said AL.com was engaging in careless and false reporting by publishing articles saying a “fifth woman has accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or assault,” which he said was “untrue.”

Moore and his campaign have also denied the allegations.

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“Specifically your client’s reports have indicated there are five [5] women accusing Chief Justice Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when in fact only two [2] women have made accusations of sexual misconduct,” the attorney wrote. “The other ladies which were rounded up in the witch hunt merely allege they perceived him to have made advances, but do not accuse him of any sexual misconduct.”

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In a campaign appearance on Tuesday at a church in Jackson, Alabama, Moore railed against what he said were attacks on Christianity.

The former Alabama chief justice — who made a name for himself by defying a federal court order in 2003 to remove a 2-ton Ten Commandments statue from the state judicial building — said he is being “harassed” by the media as part of an attack against him for standing up for Christian values, including opposing same-sex marriage.

A judicial panel removed him from the same post again last year after finding that he improperly directed the state’s probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015.

“I got suspended, and now I’m running for the Senate of the United States,” Moore said. “What do you think I’m going to do? Why do you think they’re giving me trouble? Why do you think I’m being harassed by media, and by people pushing forward allegations in the last 28 days of this election.”

Moore said this isn’t a “political battle,” it’s a “spiritual battle.”

“After 40 something years of fighting this battle, I’m now facing allegations,” Moore said. “That’s all the media wants to talk about but I want to talk about the issues. I want to talk about where this country is going and if we don’t come back to God then we are not going anywhere.”

Moore’s attorney, in the letter first obtained by conservative radio host Steve Deace, claims that AL.com inaccurately reported the income the Foundation for Moral Law paid to Moore and his wife. He also said AL.com “maliciously” reported that Moore signed a yearbook belonging to the fifth accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, who said Moore groped her and sexually assaulted her outside of a restaurant she was working at when she was 16 in 1977.

Moore was in his 30s. Garmon writes that experts have said Moore’s handwriting and vernacular does not match that of inscription in Nelson’s yearbook.

“It is also clear that [AL.com] is attempting pre-election to conspire and orchestrate a ‘trial by media’ and is playing to a ‘mob mentality,'” Garmon wrote. “We demand this circus cease and desist immediately.”

Garmon demanded that AL.com preserve any potential evidence — including notes, yearbooks, journalist pads, spiral reporter notebooks, text messages, SMS messages and any other tangible or digital evidence — for the impending lawsuit. He alleges that AL.com knowingly published false information.

Nelson, recounting her experience with Moore in a press conference Monday, said Moore offered her a ride home from work one night but instead took her behind the restaurant and assaulted her, forcibly trying to force her head down into his crotch. Moore, at the time, was in his early 30s and a regular customer at the restaurant, Nelson said.

The accusation Monday comes after four women spoke with the Washington Post last week. One of the accusers, Leigh Corfman, said Moore sexually molested her at his home when she was 14 years old in 1979.

Three other women in the Post report accused Moore of inappropriate advances, saying Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16-18. One of the women, who was 18, said Moore bought her wine on dates when the legal drinking age was 19.

All three of the other accusers said Moore either asked or took them on dates, according to the Post report. Corfman was the only one who said the dates progressed beyond kissing.

Moore’s attorney also called a report from AL.com on Monday — which said Moore had a reputation for pursuing young women at the Gadsden Mall — “untrue,” “slanderous” and “libel.” The attorney said the reports included accounts that Moore had been “banned” from the mall, was “on a watch list” and “had a bad reputation.”

“Such is untrue and due to be recanted,” he wrote, giving AL.com five days to issue a public retraction of the reporting, though it isn’t clear which articles Garmon is refering to.

That AL.com report did not include allegations that Moore had been banned from the mall, though it did say he had a reputation for pursuing young women there, citing several former employees and locals.

A New Yorker article published Monday did allege that Moore had been banned because he “repeatedly badgered teen-age girls,” citing five members of the local legal community, two police officers who worked in the town and a number of former mall employees, among others.

Moore is facing off against Democratic challenger Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in a Dec. 12 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

National GOP leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee have pulled their endorsements of Moore and discontinued joint fundraising agreements since the allegations surfaced.

Several other prominent Republicans and Republican senators have called on Moore to withdraw from the race, though he has refused to do so.

“I’m the only one who could unite Democrats and Republicans, because I seem to be opposed by both,” Moore said Tuesday. “They’ve spent over $30 million trying to take me out.”

 

Chip Brownlee is a political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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