Alabama U.S. Senate candidate again denies alleged sexual misconduct

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala., Nov 11 (Reuters) - Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the Republican insurgent running for the U.S. Senate, on Saturday again flatly denied he had initiated a sexual encounter in 1979 with a 14-year-old girl, insisting the accusation was "fake news."

In his first public appearance since a Washington Post story on Thursday detailing allegations of sexual misconduct, Moore portrayed himself a victim of a baseless attack on his character.

“I am not guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone,” the conservative Christian told an audience of about 150 people at a Veterans Day event at a public library in Vestavia Hills, outside Birmingham, the state capital.

The story was "a desperate attempt to ruin my career," Moore said. "It is completely false and untrue.”

These are the women who have accused Moore of assault: 

14 PHOTOS
Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
See Gallery
Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
Beverly Nelson (L) shows a school year book with attorney Gloria Allread during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Accuser Beverly Young Nelson, reacts while reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Attorney Gloria Allred stands with accuser Beverly Young Nelson, holding a sketch of herself made when she was 16 after reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Beverly Nelson (L) reacts as she reads a statement to reporters with attorney Gloria Allred during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Beverly Young Nelson (L) speaks to the media with her lawyer Gloria Allred, at a news conference where she has accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was 16 on November 13, 2017 in New York City. Moore, a controversial politician who recently won a run-off against Luther Strange for Alabama's Senate seat, is currently fighting accusations alleging that he pursued sexual relationships with teenagers -- including a 14-year-old -- when he was in his 30s. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Moore, who defeated an establishment Republican in a hard-fought primary battle, said the allegations were an attempt to sabotage his candidacy, noting they surfaced just four weeks before a special election to fill a seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general earlier this year. Before the scandal broke, Moore was the strong favorite to win in a state that has not elected a Democrat to the Senate in a quarter of a century.

"This article is a prime example of fake news. We do not intend to let anyone behind this story stop this campaign," Moore said. "We fully expect the people of Alabama to see through this charade.”

The scandal presents a quandary to the Republicans, who hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate and can ill afford to lose what has been a safe seat in Alabama.

Democrats, emboldened by state and local election victories in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, have sought to capitalize on the accusations in support of Alabama's Democratic nominee, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who remains a long shot.

As Moore entered the hall on Saturday, followed by a pack of news media cameras, about 10 protesters holding cardboard signs chanted “No Moore." Some of the placards read “Grabby Old Pervert” and “Pedophiles in jail, not the Senate.”

“Moore should drop out right now,” said Lisa Sharlach, 49, a teacher from Vestavia Hills who was among the protesters. “There are real victims here and he’s unfit to serve in any elected office, now or ever.”

See Moore through the years: 

19 PHOTOS
Roy Moore through the years
See Gallery
Roy Moore through the years
FILE PHOTO: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore faces the media after being removed from office in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. November 13, 2003. REUTERS/Bob Ealum/File Photo
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 4: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore, holding an article about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during the U.S. Senate candidate forum held by the Shelby County Republican Party in Pelham, Ala., on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore speaks during a candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore speaks during a candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 7: Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks to parishoners at The Church of the Apostles September 7, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia. Moore's Ten Commandments monument was recently removed from the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - AUGUST 16: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore leaves a rally in support of a monument of the Ten Commandments August 16, 2003 in Montgomery, Alabama. Moore said Thursday that he will defy a federal judge's order to remove the monument from the state judicial building rotunda. (Photo by Gary Tramontina/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - AUGUST 25: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore leaves a news conference at the State Judicial building August 25, 2003 in Montgomery, Alabama. Moore is currently suspened for not following a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the building. (Photo by Gary Tramontina/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, greets guests after arriving at an election-night rally on September 26, 2017 in Montgomery, Alabama. Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama supreme court, is in a primary runoff contest against incumbent Luther Strange for the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FAIRHOPE, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, speaks at a campaign rally on September 25, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Moore is running in a primary runoff election against incumbent Luther Strange for the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump. The runoff election is scheduled for September 26. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore speaks during a candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore arrives for the candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Roy Moore, GOP Senate candidate and former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court speaks during the annual Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shorham Hotel on October 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 31: Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, is questioned by the media in the Capitol on October 31, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
FAIRHOPE, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, speaks at a campaign rally on September 25, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Moore is running in a primary runoff election against incumbent Luther Strange for the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump. The runoff election is scheduled for September 26. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FAIRHOPE, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, greets guests at a campaign rally on September 25, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Moore is running in a primary runoff election against incumbent Luther Strange for the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump. The runoff election is scheduled for September 26. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FAIRHOPE, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, speaks at a campaign rally on September 25, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Moore is running in a primary runoff election against incumbent Luther Strange for the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump. The runoff election is scheduled for September 26. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore arrives for the candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 3: GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore speaks during a candidates' forum in Valley, Ala., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. The former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Others turned out to show support for Moore.

“The judge is my man,” said Paul Jourdan, 73, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and a Birmingham resident. “He’s got my vote and I’ll tell everybody to support him.”

“This is totally fake news - it can’t be real,” Jourdan said of the allegations against Moore. "What else is it but political propaganda?”

Moore's appearance came a day after the national campaign wing for Senate Republicans cut fund-raising ties with Moore, a sign the party was abandoning a candidacy that U.S. President Donald Trump's former political strategist Steve Bannon has championed.

Numerous prominent Republican lawmakers have called on Moore either to drop out immediately, as Senator John McCain did on Thursday, or to drop out if the allegations prove to be true, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did.

But several Alabama Republican officials have not wavered in their support of Moore, who scored a decisive primary victory in September over Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat on an interim basis after Sessions was named attorney general.

Moore has been accused by a woman of initiating a sexual encounter in 1979 when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old prosecutor, the Washington Post reported. Three other women said Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, though none accused him of sexual contact.

Moore, now 70, denied any wrongdoing on Friday during an appearance on conservative commentator Sean Hannity's national radio show.

Paula Cobia, the lawyer for one of the women who said Moore had pursued them when they were teenagers, blasted the former judge after his speech.

Cobia represents Gloria Deason, who accused Moore of supplying her with alcoholic drinks when she was 18, below the legal drinking age.

"Once again, Roy Moore is publicly making defamatory statements about the 4 brave women named in The Washington Post by calling them liars and accusing them of bribery and conspiracy," Cobia wrote on her Facebook page.

Moore was twice forced out of his position as chief justice, once for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse and once for defying the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Democrats have highlighted his penchant for incendiary statements about Muslims and homosexuality. (Reporting by Richard McKay; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

SEE: Lawmakers reach to allegations against Moore: 

15 PHOTOS
Lawmakers react to Roy Moore sexual misconduct allegations
See Gallery
Lawmakers react to Roy Moore sexual misconduct allegations
Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, according to a Washington Post report.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and all… https://t.co/MXrceCZZ9a
If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate.
JUST NOW: @lisamurkowski on WaPo Report on Roy Moore: “I’m horrified and if it’s true he should step down immediately.”
If there is any shred of truth to the allegations against Roy Moore, he should step aside immediately.
Look, I'm sorry, but even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore's nomination was a bridge too far.
The allegations leveled at Roy Moore are disturbing. I have serious concerns about his prior conduct and fitness fo… https://t.co/EQcUEpHRKH
Ted Cruz: Roy Moore allegations "serious and troubling," should "immediately withdraw" if true… https://t.co/XuW33Chx5j
NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner: “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out.” https://t.co/y4UEOJmZWa
Portman says Moore should drop out of the race if the Moore reports are true, says he has “no reason to doubt”… https://t.co/mOhGuTl2d9
I've long opposed Roy Moore & his divisive viewpoints. The actions described make him unfit for office. The GOP mus… https://t.co/8rpkIH3FkX
I am pulling my endorsement and support for Roy Moore for U.S. Senate.
Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I… https://t.co/cuO0MkNxVJ
I have now read Mr. Moore’s statement and listened to his radio interview in which he denies the charges. I did not… https://t.co/OQDdcvO3fX
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.