[Trigger warning for child sexual assault]
If you’ve been looking for tips on how to pretend child sexual assault is okay, don’t miss the current parade of excuses against accusations that a Republican Senate candidate molested a teenager when he was in his 30s.
In a story published by the Washington Post last week, Leigh Corfman said she was 14 years old when Roy Moore, then a 32-year-old district attorney, approached her and her mother as they waited outside the courthouse for a child custody hearing. Per her allegations*, Moore offered to keep an eye on Corfman while her mother, Nancy, went in for the hearing, and while Nancy was out of the way, Moore chatted Corfman up and asked for her phone number. Over the next couple of weeks, he would drive her out to his home, kiss her, take her clothes off, touch her genitals through her underwear, and try to make her touch his.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.
A Post reporter was in Alabama working on a story about Moore’s supporters when she first heard about Moore’s notorious pursuit of teenaged girls. Over the course of three weeks, writers Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard, and Alice Crites turned up three more women — none of whom knew each other or Corfman, and none of whom approached the Post themselves — who said that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers, although there was no sexual contact beyond kissing.
Wendy Miller says she was 14 and working as a Santa’s helper at the Gadsden Mall when Moore first approached her, and 16 when he asked her on dates, which her mother forbade. Debbie Wesson Gibson says she was 17 when Moore spoke to her high school civics class and asked her out on the first of several dates that did not progress beyond kissing. Gloria Thacker Deason says she was an 18-year-old cheerleader when Moore began taking her on dates that included bottles of Mateus Rosé wine. The legal drinking age in Alabama was 19.
During the lengthy investigation for this thoroughly-reported story, the reporters talked to 30 independently corroborating individuals, some of whom knew Roy Moore during the time he was ADA for Etowah County and some of whom had heard the specific stories of which he’s being accused at the time the actions allegedly took place. Corfman described her story consistently through six interviews, and divorce records confirm that her mother was at the courthouse during the time Corfman said Moore first approached her. The four women — who are speaking openly and by name — were initially reluctant to talk to the Post but ultimately did it because they felt it was important for people to know.
For his part, Moore denies outright that he molested Corfman and said that he might have pursued other teenagers but, like, probably didn’t. He told Sean Hannity, “If I did, I’m not going to dispute these things, but I don’t remember anything like that.” (After his return from the military, he “dated a lot of young ladies,” he said, but that dating a teenager was “out of [his] customary behavior.”)
That lukewarm denial wasn’t good enough for some conservatives, who immediately withdrew their endorsement, and some others came out with oh-so-definitive “if it’s wrong, he should definitely step down” responses. But others accepted that if he said he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it, and that our boy Judge Roy would never do anything like that, resulting in a textbook example of how to justify and rationalize your continued support of a man credibly accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl.
1. Smear the alleged victim.
On Fox News, Sean Hannity — The Father Of A Daughter And A Brother To Sisters — and legal analyst Mercedes Colwin implied that most sexual assault accusers are lying for money and are hurting “women, people that are victims of predators” (don’t forget to pretend you actually care about sexual assault victims, now!), who are “very few and far between.” Dinesh D’Souza implied that Corfman is lying because of the timing of the accusations.
Defenders have brought up brought up Corfman’s past divorces and bankruptcies in an attempt to discredit her, reported claims that she’s made other sexual assault accusations in the past apparently sourced from Moore’s Facebook page, and speculated that Corfman just fantasized about being molested by Moore due to her “questionable past.” Pizzagate conspiracist Jack Posobiec encouraged his Twitter followers to stalk her at her last known place of employment. Breitbart interviewed Corfman’s mother to try and catch her out in a lie because 14-year-old Corfman didn’t have a phone in her room.
In an interview with Huntsville radio station WVNN, State Rep. Ed Henry — A Father Of Two Daughters — said that “what these women are doing is such a shame.” “They discredit when women actually are abused and taken advantage of,” he said. “They’re not using their supposed experience to find justice. They’re just using it as a weapon, a political weapon.”
Corfman openly admits that she’s had three divorces and filed for bankruptcies three times, and that she once paid a fine for driving a boat without lights and was charged with a misdemeanor — later dismissed — for selling beer to a minor when she worked at a convenience story. She also had a history of self-destructive behavior as a teenager following her molestation at the hands of a 32-year-old man.
After talking to her friends, Corfman says, she began to feel that she had done something wrong and kept it a secret for years.
“I felt responsible,” she says. “I felt like I had done something bad. And it kind of set the course for me doing other things that were bad.”
She says that her teenage life became increasingly reckless with drinking, drugs, boyfriends, and a suicide attempt when she was 16.
Corfman said in her interview that she wanted to come forward in the past but chose not to because, in part, she was afraid people would bring up her past issues to dismiss her accusations.
She says she thought of confronting Moore personally for years, and almost came forward publicly during his first campaign for state Supreme Court in 2000, but decided against it. Her two children were still in school then and she worried about how it would affect them. She also was concerned that her background — three divorces and a messy financial history — might undermine her credibility.
“There is no one here that doesn’t know that I’m not an angel,” Corfman says, referring to her home town of Gadsden.
This is why sexual assault victims don’t come forward. Corfman’s bankruptcies have nothing to do with whether it’s plausible or not that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 14. A woman is not a liar because she’s been divorced or one time she drove a boat without lights. People question women’s credibility when they don’t come forward and then rip them to shreds when they do — and then self-righteously accuse them of betraying all sexual assault victims for choosing not to step in front of the firing squad. You people are monsters.
And on the subject of accusations not arising during Moore’s past campaigns: In the past, Moore has only run for statewide offices that haven’t garnered national media attention. These accusations only came to light because the Post, with time and resources that local media outlets generally don’t have, went down to Gadsden to learn about the candidate’s supporters and ultimately learned far more than they thought they would.
2. Say it happened a long time ago.
It’s not like he molested a lot of teenagers, Henry said. And if he did, it was the victims’ fault for not coming forward so they could be properly smeared by the media.
“The idea that accusations like this would stop his campaign is ludicrous. If this was a habit, like you’ve read with Bill Cosby and millions of dollars paid to settle cases and years of witnesses, that would be one thing,” Henry said. “You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations with as many times as he’s (Moore) run (for office) and been in the news.
Henry said he believes legal action should be considered against Moore’s accusers, finding their story unbelievable.
“If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion,” Henry said.
To Moore’s defenders, past sexual assault dissolves over time to the point that 40 years later, it doesn’t even matter anymore, and a man who molests a teenager is no longer a molester anymore. Like, say a dude probably hasn’t molested a teenager in, like, years. As long as he isn’t molesting teenagers anymore, what does it matter if maybe he molested one in the past?
In an interview with the Toronto Star‘s Daniel Dale, Marion County GOP Chair David Hall just flat-out said untrue stuff, none of which actually makes it okay anyway or even lessens the severity of the offense, but we’ve established that the truth basically never matters in anything anymore in our current political climate so he might as well.
“It was 40 years ago,” Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall tells me. “I really don’t see the relevance of it. He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.”
Well, no, she said he also touched her genitals and tried to make her touch his.
Me: “The story said she said he tried to get her to touch his genitals.” Hall: “Well, she said he may have TRIED to. But we’re talking something that somebody SAID happened, 40 years ago. It wouldn’t affect whether or not I’d vote for him.”
No, she said that he made her put her hand on his crotch, and that he touched her genitals.
More Hall: “The other women that they’re using to corrobrate: number one, one was 19, one was 17, one was 16. There’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old single male asking a 19-year-old, a 17-year-old, or a 16-year-old out on a date.”
The fourth accuser was 18, not 19, and Moore was 32, not 30. But it’s good he mentioned that Moore was single at the time — if he’d been married, that shit would have been out of line.
4. The “Grass on the Field” defense.
Breitbart News editor-at-large Joel Pollak pointed out that only one of Moore’s alleged targets was under Alabama’s age of consent — the other three were 16, 17, and 18. Because he wasn’t doing anything illegal — and one of them wasn’t even a minor, y’all, like, chill out, right? — obviously he wasn’t doing anything wrong, and this was just a “desperate political attack.” When a grown man is pursuing a girl who has to change out of her high school cheerleading uniform before they go on dates where he plies her with alcohol, that’s perfectly okay, because she’s legal.
When it’s their candidate under fire, Moore’s defenders seem happy to trace the narrow but existent line between illegal and abusive and absolutely not okay, because the spirit of the law is for suckers when you have the letter of it to fall back on and personal judgment and basic human decency are not a thing.
“If this story is true, and I think that any story about sexual misconduct, especially with someone who is underage, is very serious — why would the Washington Post wrap it with all kinds of perfectly legitimate relationships as well as all kinds of other political clutter?” Pollak asked.
Fun fact: A a 32-year-old man pursuing a 16-year-old girl is not a legitimate relationship, Jesus Christ.
5. The “For the Bible Tells Me So” defense.
Speaking of “Jesus Christ,” the possible winner in this one has to be Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, who argued that whether or not Roy Moore actually molested a teenager, there’s nothing wrong with that. His statement to the Washington Examiner relies on the well-known fact that everything that happens in the Bible is okay.
“There is nothing to see here,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told the Washington Examiner. “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.”
Which is only true if you think a 32-year-old man who fondled a 14-year-old and tried to make her give him an over-the-underwear hand job was going to just put his pants back on and take her home afterward even if she hadn’t objected first. And as long as he did that, it’s cool, because people did it in the Bible and everything that happens in the Bible is okay.
“He’s clean as a hound’s tooth,” Ziegler claimed, before relying on Scripture to defend Moore.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
If only this kind of thing were unusual — both grown men molesting teenaged girls, and people going out of their way to excuse it.
*I have to.