By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
There are a lot of women out there who are my heroes. My wife, Veronica, is right at the top, no doubt.
Since last week’s column, where Veronica allowed me to share the two times she’s been sexually assaulted, we’ve heard from many people, including one reporter who is looking into the assault where a newspaper publisher spanked Veronica.
Another of my heroes is attorney Paula Cobia, who is representing Gloria Deason, one of the original four women who came forward in a Washington Post story accusing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault and improper contact.
Moore has denied any wrongdoing, of course, but he’s shown no proof, despite saying he would provide evidence that he’s the victim of some outlandish political conspiracy.
Now, however, nine women in all have come forward accusing Moore of inappropriate contact, Cobia says.
Fox News’ Sean Hannity, pretty silly at most any time, really looked bad with Moore as a guest on his radio show after The Washington Post allegations were published. Then Hannity wanted Deason to appear, like Cobia would ever allow that to happen.
Still, Cobia doesn’t see herself as any kind of hero.
“Obviously, I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure,” Cobia said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “It’s easy to be an advocate for these women. I see my role as being a buffer for (Deason).”
The courage it took for these women to tell their stories is clearly not understood or respected by a lot of people – men and women — who worship Roy Moore, like he is the Christ himself.
Cobia came out of retirement to represent Deason, and she’s doing it without charge.
Cobia also resents, and rightfully so, the early comments from Moore that made Deason part of some sort of political conspiracy to ruin him.
“I take personal offense at that, because that’s accusing me as well,” Cobia said, adding she’s not concerned by any potential lawsuit by Moore, but that there is a possibility she and Deason will file an action against him.
Cobia is aggressive in defense of the abused women, and especially Deason, as a good attorney should be.
And Cobia is concerned about the stain that is being imprinted on Alabama. With a child predator like Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate, our reputation isn’t going to improve, and that’s going to have an impact on recruiting businesses and others to the state.
Gov. Kay Ivey, who said she has no reason to doubt the original Moore accusers, still insisted that she’d vote for him in the Dec. 12 election. Other state Republicans are also standing by Moore, despite the clear credibility of his accusers’ stories and those who corroborated them.
Frankly, it boggles the mind. Except it doesn’t. Alabama often has to be told by courts to do what it knows is right. Our citizens repeatedly and frustratingly vote against their best interests in election after election.
But revelations of sexual harassment are having their era now, and it’s long overdue. Many in the private sector have been removed from their positions because their sexual assaults and abuse were revealed.
“But for some reason in the public sector, the public is requiring a higher level (of proof),” Cobia said. “It saddens me that so many women in Alabama, especially in the most senior age groups, aren’t even aware of the fact that at some time in their lives they’ve been abused themselves.”
Whatever happens on Dec. 12, Cobia expects the story to stay alive.
“Nine women have come out, and I’ll be very surprised if more don’t come forward before Dec. 12, or afterward,” Cobia said. “This story is not dying by any means.”
That many girls and women don’t come forward immediately after being abused isn’t difficult for a reasonable person to understand and appreciate. It’s often embarrassing; as we’ve seen in this case, the victims are attacked and vilified. And often it’s powerful people (mostly men) who are doing the abusing.
There should be a reckoning – even a national reckoning – and maybe this is it.
Let’s not send a child molester to the U.S. Senate to represent Alabama.
And let’s recognize that these are brave women who have come forward, and that Paula Cobia is, indeed, a hero to advocate for them.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]