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Roy Moore files countersuit against sexual misconduct accuser

Chip Brownlee

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Leigh Corfman accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct in a November 2017 Washington Post article. (via NBC's Today)

If you thought the controversy surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations against former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore was over, you might be wrong.

One of the accusers, Leigh Corfman, who said Moore touched her inappropriately at his home in the late 1970s when she was only 14 years old, has a lawsuit pending against Moore for defamation.

And on Tuesday, Moore filed a countersuit, which claims the same.

In court filings, Moore’s attorneys wrote that Corfman defamed and slandered Moore’s character when she levied accusations of sexual abuse against him in a Washington Post article published in November 2017, a month before the special election, and in subsequent public statements.

Moore has denied the allegations, and his attorneys wrote in court filings that no other evidence “other than the self-serving testimony of Leigh Corfman exists to support her contention that she was sexually abused or pursued romantically by Mr. Moore when she was 14 years of age.”

Corfman has consistently stood by her claims since she first disclosed them to The Post, but Moore and his campaign have repeatedly labeled the accusation as a political hit job by the “liberal media” and the “Washington establishment.”

“The statements made by Leigh Corfman to The Washington Post were fabricated and malicious and made with the sole intent of defaming Mr. Moore so as to damage his reputation in the community, state, and nation and prevented his election to the U.S. Senate,” Moore’s attorneys wrote in his filing.

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Corfman’s filing in January hit Moore and his campaign for allegedly defaming her after she came forward with the misconduct accusations. Corfman’s attorneys argue the allegations are true and Moore is knowingly maligning Corfman with false allegations of dishonesty and deception.

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“Mr. Moore has not stopped denigrating Ms. Corfman or prioritizing his political ambitions over the truth,” her attorneys wrote in her initial complaint against Moore. “To the contrary, he has sought out the broadest of public forums to impugn Ms. Corfman.”

Moore’s wife, Kayla, also posted on her Facebook page ahead of the election, repeating unfounded claims that the women were paid to come forward. There has yet to be any proof or reliable reports of any payments.

The lawsuits are being handled in Montgomery County Circuit Court, where Judge Ronan Shaul previously refused a motion from Moore’s attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit. Earlier this week, Shaul denied another request from Moore’s attorneys to move the proceedings from Montgomery County to Etowah County, where Moore and Corfman both reside.

Corfman’s lawsuit and Moore’s counterclaim come after Moore’s bitter loss to now-Sen. Doug Jones, the first Democratic U.S. senator from Alabama elected in more than two decades. Moore’s campaign has long argued that his loss was because of Corfman’s accusations and others like it.

Corfman said Moore approached her and her mother outside of the Etowah County courthouse in 1979 when they were attending a custody hearing.

He offered to watch her outside while her mother went in for the hearing, she said, then he asked for her number and if he could call her sometime.

He later picked her up twice, a few blocks over from her house, without her mother’s knowledge, according to her account. The second trip to his rural Etowah County home ended with Moore taking off both their clothes and touching her over her underwear, she said.

When he tried to get her to touch him over his underwear, she pulled away and asked to go home, she said, and he took her.

Two other sexual assault accusations later surfaced.

One accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, said Moore tried to force her into a sexual encounter outside of a restaurant where she was working as a waitress in 1977 when she was 16. The other, Tina Johnson, told AL.com that Moore groped her buttocks after a meeting in his Gadsden law office in 1991. She was 28, and Moore would have been married to his wife, Kayla, at the time.

Six other women accused Moore of a range of actions, from dating them when they were teenagers and in their 20s and he was in his 30s, to persistently pursuing them when they were between the ages of 16-18.

Some said Moore repeatedly asked them out on dates at their high school, and another said Moore forcibly kissed her after a date.

Moore and Corfman are set to appear in court Thursday for the first hearing in the case. Moore has said he wants a jury trial, as opposed to the more common bench trial — or a trial decided by a judge — for civil cases like this one.

 

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