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Roy Moore continues legal battle, sues four accusers for defamation, conspiracy

Chip Brownlee

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The election might have ended nearly five months ago, but the legal battles surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations against former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore are just beginning.

Moore, who was accused of sexual assault and misconduct by several women a month before last year’s special election, sued four of his accusers Monday for defamation and what his attorney said was a “political conspiracy.”

The former judge and his wife, Kayla Moore, jointly filed the action against Leigh Corfman, Debbie Gibson, Tina Johnson and Beverley Nelson, the four women who levied the most serious accusations against Moore last year.

The suit, filed in the Etowah County Circuit Court, where Moore and Corfman both reside, alleges that the women committed libel and slander against Moore by making false and malicious statements “with intentional or reckless disregard for the truth and with the intent that those statements be published to others, including through state and national media.”

“This was filed because the people of Alabama deserve to know the truth,” said Melissa Isaak, Moore’s attorney, at a press conference Monday.

The press conference was Moore’s first public appearance since he lost the special election to now-Sen. Doug Jones on Dec. 12.

“Each of the above named individuals conspired and and [sic] associated with each other in a common design and purpose for the political objective of defaming the character and reputation of Roy and Kayla Moore in such manner as to cause them to experience disgrace, shame and contempt,” the court filing reads.

Moore and his wife are seeking compensatory damages for lost income and lost professional opportunities, according to court documents, along with more hefty punitive damages.

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“If you read the complaint, you’re going to see a political conspiracy, and even the press should be able to see a political conspiracy,” Moore said at the press conference. “We’ve got it documented. I’m prepared to go through depositions. I’ve taken a lie detector test.”

Moore has continuously denied the accusations made by the women, and he continued those denials Monday, making a note of saying that he has no intentions at this time to run again for public office.

The former Alabama chief justice, who was effectively removed from the State Supreme Court last year for judicial ethics violations, said he never knew the women who accused him of unwanted romantic and sexual advances.

Three of the women named in the suit — Corfman, Johnson and Nelson — accused Moore of more serious claims. Corfman accused Moore of bringing her to his Etowah County home in 1979 when she was only 14 years old, younger than the age of consent in Alabama.

Corfman’s accusations included a claim that Moore touched her inappropriately.

First of Roy Moore’s accusers says she didn’t come forward earlier because of her kids

All of the women included in the case went public in the weeks leading up to the December special election. Corfman and Gibson were quoted in the Washington Post in an article that placed a nationwide focus on the election.

Johnson later told AL.com that Moore groped her buttocks after a meeting at his Gadsden law office in 1991 when she was 28. Moore would have been married to his wife at the time. And Nelson said Moore tried to force her into a sexual encounter and throwing her out of a vehicle when she refused his advances. In a press conference last year, Nelson said the alleged assault took place outside of a restaurant where she was working as a waitress in 1977 when she was 16.

Moore said the accusations were baseless and accused the media of giving a platform to false allegations.

“It’s worth saying that this has been warped by the press and by the media,” Moore said Monday. “People have been blinded and cannot see the truth. But fortunately, a lot of people in Alabama did — 650,000 saw the proof, the truth and voted for me in this election.”

Several other women, including Gibson, came forward with claims that all painted Moore as an upstart district attorney who had a knack for pursuing younger women. The women said Moore — long known as a moralist both on and off the bench — insistently pursued them at school and the workplace while they were in the teens and early 20s.

Paula Cobia, Johnson’s attorney, called Moore’s new lawsuit “frivolous” in a statement Monday evening.

“Mr. Moore said nothing new and is using this as another attempt to fleece money from his followers,” Cobia said.  “Claiming he is broke (despite receiving approximately $200,000 a year in a pension from the State of Alabama), he has been engaged in actively seeking money to defend a defamation suit pending against him in Montgomery, Alabama, a suit that seeks a retraction and apology, but no monetary damages beyond attorneys’ fees.

Complaint (Judge Moore) by Chip Brownlee on Scribd

Cobia said Moore was using the new lawsuit as a way to potentially “enrich himself.”

“Ms. Johnson stands by and reaffirms the truthfulness of every statement she has made about the sexual assault she suffered from the hands of Mr. Moore,” Cobia said. “He has lost any power of intimidation he once held.”

Moore’s lawsuit, which includes counts of negligence, wantonness, defamation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, outrage and civil conspiracy, also names Richard Merlin Hagedorn as a defendant and alleges that Hagedorn had political motives for conspiring with the accusers against Moore.

The lawsuit alleges that Hagedorn met with “an agent” from the Washington Post nearly a month before the newspaper first published the accusations on Nov. 9, 2017. Hagedorn’s brother, David, is a columnist for the Washington Post, according to the claim.

Moore’s lawsuit — which makes a point to say that Richard Hagedorn’s brother, David, is gay, has a husband and has criticized Moore on social media for his intense opposition to same-sex marriage — claims that Richard Hagedorn escorted Washington Post reporters in Etowah County and furthered “false and malicious attacks on the character and reputation of Judge Moore.”

When The Post first published their Nov. 9 article, Hagedorn posted on social media that Corfman was a friend of 40 years, and he later expressed support for Nelson after she made her allegations in a televised press conference.

Other than social media posts critical of Moore, the lawsuit doesn’t provide any specific evidence that Hagedorn worked with the women or conspired with them to make false or malicious accusations.

Moore has refused to concede the election to Jones even after Republican Secretary of State John Merril certified the election and made Moore’s loss to Jones – the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in a quarter-century — official.

Jones defeated Moore with a margin of victory of 21,914 votes or about 2 percent, too wide of a margin to trigger an automatic recount under state law.

The new lawsuit in Etowah County comes after Moore recently filed a separate countersuit in Montgomery against Corfman, who in January accused Moore of defamation.

Roy Moore files countersuit against sexual misconduct accuser

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Economy

Ainsworth unveils website for small businesses seeking information during pandemic

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth unveiled a new web page Monday designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop information hub during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and forced economic shutdown.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is already providing small business owners with unprecedented challenges and frustrations, so they should not have to struggle to find the information necessary to survive in the current economic climate,” Ainsworth said. “As new small business programs are announced and revised health orders go into effect, the website will be updated in order to provide the most timely and accurate information possible.”

The website was created by the Alabama Small Business Commission, which Ainsworth chairs. The site provides information related to Small Business Administration loans and assistance, unemployment claims, tax relief programs, and other timely initiatives.

The website is intended to help small businesses remain in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. The website also provides links to every state, county, and municipal health order currently being enforced in Alabama.

The Legislature placed the Alabama Small Business Commission under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office in 2019.

The 22-member commission is tasked with formulating “policies encouraging innovation of small businesses in the state” and advising the Department of Commerce in promoting small businesses within Alabama.

On March 12, the rapidly spreading coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, led President Donald J. Trump (R) to order a forced economic shutdown on March 12. Those original orders have subsequently been strengthened by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), culminating in a statewide shelter in place order on Friday.

Realizing that with most of their businesses shut down through at least April 30, Congress passed and the President signed the CARES Act, which provides low interest loans to hundreds of thousands of struggling small businesses. If the businesses use the money to make payroll and to pay other business overhead costs the loans will be forgiven.

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Currently, there are 2,113 Alabamians with confirmed cases of COVID-19. 64 Alabamians have died and 271 are currently in the hospital. 20 Alabamians have recovered from their illness and been cleared by their doctors. The global pandemic has infected more than 1,441,589 people globally and killed 82,933, including 7,380 people just on Tuesday (1,970 of them were Americans). Gov. Ivey’s shelter in place order is in effect through April 30, but that is likely to be extended.

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Economy

Businesses applying for aid can receive proof of existence from secretary of state’s office

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday that federal resources have been made available to support businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to assist with tax relief, employee protection and benefits, loans and grants, and many other challenges that business owners may encounter during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Merrill’s office explained that in order to be eligible for this federal aid, some corporations and businesses may be required to prove their existence as part of their application. Certificates of Existence can be obtained through visiting the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.

Business owners can apply online to receive their Certificate of Existence electronically for immediate processing. The non-subscriber fee is $28 and will allow a user to download their copy for up to 15 days.

If you are completing the request for a Certificate of Existence by paper, you may access the application here.

The form must be typed and will not be accepted via email.

Once completed, mail the application, along with the $25 filing fee, to:

Secretary of State’s Business Services Division
P.O. Box 5616,
Montgomery, Alabama 36103

Those who apply online will not receive a mailed copy. Rather, a copy can be downloaded online and then printed out.

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Certificates of Existence are only available for businesses who have previously filed for formation with the Secretary of State’s Office. If you have not yet filed, you are still able to do so through the Secretary of State’s website

This documentation may also be required to process loan applications by lending institutions, banks, credit unions, farm credit, or public accountants.

For questions or more information, contact the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division at (334) 242-7221 or (334) 242-5324.

Thousands of Alabama businesses have been forced to close by orders from the state as well as local health departments. Many businessmen and women are having to make the difficult decision on whether or not to continue to make payroll. The aid under the CARES Act is a lifeline to businesses that the federal government is offering during this unprecedented period of economic crisis.

The forced economic shutdown was deemed necessary by state and federal government authorities in consultation with public health experts in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 global pandemic has already killed 12,857 Americans and 82,993 people globally. 1,050,077 people around the globe are still struggling through active cases of the illness, including 395,981 Americans.

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News

Alabama League of Municipalities forms task force for stimulus funding

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In response to Congress enacting the CARES Act, the Alabama League of Municipalities has created a 10-member Stimulus Task Force to determine the immediate economic impact of COVID-19 on Alabama’s cities and towns.

Under the CARES Act, the state of Alabama is slated to receive approximately $1.9 billion in direct funding for the state and local governments. Of that distribution, fifty-five percent will be allocated to the state. The remaining forty-five percent will also be allocated to the state for Governor Kay Ivey and her administration to determine the best use as it pertains to the needs of Alabama’s local governments.

League President Mayor Ronnie Marks of Athens stressed the importance of the League’s Stimulus Task Force. “Alabama is a state of mostly small and mid-size communities that rely on sales, use and lodgings taxes, as well as rental and motor fuel revenue streams, to provide critical quality of life services to our citizens,” he said. “The League represents all 463 incorporated cities and towns in our state, and by forming this Stimulus Task Force – with representation from throughout Alabama, we are making a concerted effort to identify immediate funding losses to provide a sound basis for Gov. Ivey to fairly distribute federal stimulus aid to our communities in an effort to keep them solvent during these challenging times.”

ALM’s Stimulus Task Force has been charged with reviewing the funding being allocated to the state and determining the best process for local governments to receive distributions should Governor Ivey provide those resources to cities and towns. Members of the task force are considering all streams of revenue where their communities are experiencing the greatest loss – particularly sales and use taxes, motor fuel taxes, lodgings taxes and rental taxes.

Serving on the 10-member task force are: Mayor Ronnie Marks, Athens and ALM President; Mayor Leigh Dollar, Guntersville and ALM Vice-President; Councilmember Adam Bourne, Chickasaw and Chair of ALM’s Committee on State and Federal Legislation; Mayor Gary Fuller, Opelika; Mayor Tony Haygood, Tuskegee; Mayor Walt Maddox, Tuscaloosa; Mayor Mark Saliba, Dothan; Mayor Robert Craft, Gulf Shores; Councilmember Bridgett Jordan-Smith, Vincent; Mayor Hollie Cost, Montevallo.

“I’m honored to be a part of the League’s Stimulus Task Force,” said ALM Vice-President Mayor Leigh Dollar of Guntersville. “I appreciate the League being on the forefront of this issue that is so important to every city and town in Alabama. All cities and towns will be affected by the current economic situation. The task force is working on a fair and equitable way to recommend distribution of federal funding to help restore some of the economic loss throughout the state. It’s vital that we work together for the betterment of Alabama.”

For more information or if you have questions, please email Kayla Bass, ALM Public Affairs Associate, at[email protected].

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Health

Public Easter week services are canceled

Brandon Moseley

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Most Churches in Alabama will not hold public Easter week services in compliance with the guidance from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Easter week is the holiest week in the Christian Church’s calendar and is usually marked with overflow crowds at Easter services in Churches across the state. The COVID-19 global pandemic, which has killed 83,090 people as of press time however has halted most gatherings of over ten, including most public worship services.

Bishop Robert J. Baker, S.T.D., the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, has extended the suspension of public worship till Saturday, April 18, 2020.

“It is with sadness that I write to you today to say that after consulting with our priests, public authorities, and health experts, I judge it necessary to extend the suspension of public worship, that I first issued on March 17,2020,” Bishop Baker wrote. “The suspension will now continue through the day before Divine Mercy Sunday – April 18, 2020.”

Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of the Mobile Archdiocese issued similar orders on March 30.

“The suspension of public worship services and most church activities in the Catholic churches of the Archdiocese of Mobile is extended through April 18, 2020,” Rodi wrote. “The original suspension was announced on March 17.”

“This means that public Easter services will not be celebrated in our Catholic churches,” Archbishop Rodi explained. “This is a most painful decision. Not only is Easter a time of celebration, even more importantly, the Resurrection of Our Lord is at the core of our Christian faith. However, this action is taken in the interest of the common good of our communities and is in accord with the advice of civil authorities.”

The Archdiocese of Mobile consists of the Catholic churches and ministries in the 28 counties of the southern half of Alabama. The Diocese of Birmingham consists of the of the Catholic Churches and ministries in the northern 39 counties.

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Many Churches are still streaming services to their congregations. The Alabama based Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) will be streaming services online.

The Archdiocese of Mobile will also be streaming services from the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Those services are closed to the public.

http://mobarch.org/

Roman Catholics, as well as many other Christian Churches, celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with a service on the Thursday night before Easter. On the Friday before Easter there is a Good Friday service. On the Saturday nightery before Easter there is an Easter vigil service. On Sunday there is the traditional Easter Services that normally attract both the regular Churchgoers as well as many people who attend just a couple of services a year.

According to Christian scripture, Jesus of Nazareth was arrested by local Jewish authorities on a Thursday in 30 to 33 A.D. He was put on trial that night by the Jewish Sanhedrin, who turned him over to the Roman authorities who were then occupying Judea. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate ordered Jesus executed the next day. Crucifixion was the execution method of choice for the Romans. Jesus died on the cross, likely from heart failure after an ordeal that included beatings and having to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem to the hill overlooking the city. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus was buried in a tomb; but rose from the dead the following Sunday. He then met with his remaining disciples for gatherings a few weeks before ascending to heaven. Those devoted followers began preaching Jesus’s message and founding Churches the world over. Subsequent Christian scholars later determined that Jesus was both man and God made flesh. Muslims reject the divinity of Jesus; but acknowledge that he was a prophet. Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus will come again.

Most Churches, regardless of denomination, have similarly moved their Easter week services online.

Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide stay at home order did exempt worship services and some Churches have made the decision to meet for public worship services in spite of the growing COVID-19 risk.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has infected 1,444,821 persons around the world and killed 83,103. 47,980 people are in critical or serious condition in hospitals around the world. In the United States, 12,850 people have died from COVID-19 as of press time.

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