Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has long been controversial and I will readily admit to being one of his most vocal critics over his defiance of legal authority and extremist views. However, he is now perfectly radioactive after allegations that he initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s. Perhaps the strangest defense came from Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler (right) told the Washington Examiner that, if Moore did engage in pedophilia, it was “much ado about nothing.”: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” In the meantime, Moore has called his multiple accusers as people engaging in “intentional defamation.” What is clear is someone is lying. If Moore is telling the truth, the next step would presumably be a defamation lawsuit. The same can be said for these four women who have now been called liars. This is a time when a little litigation would go a long way.
Ziegler’s comments were clearly designed to appeal to Moore’s base. Moore became a household name by defying courts over Christian displays at the courthouse and waging a virtual war on the notion of separation of church and state. Ziegler’s statement is chillingly reminiscent over our prior discussion of Muslim clerics opposing bans on child brides because Mohammad married a 6 year old girl and consummated the marriage when she was just 9 years old (here and here and here and here).
Ziegler insisted that “There is nothing to see here” and that, at most, “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.” If Moore did try to date teenagers as an adult man, Zieglar insisted that “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
It is an appalling defense and Moore notably is not trying to defend such conduct as opposed to outright denying all four allegations as “fake news.” Various GOP leaders have either called for Moore to withdraw from the race or consider withdrawing. The Senate GOP has blocked any fundraising for Moore in light of the allegations.
The women accusing Moore were between 14 and 18 when Moore allegedly committed these acts. The Washington Post says that it was researching another subject when its reporters began to hear that Moore had a reputation for pursuing young girls.
Leigh Corfman was 24 when she said that Moore molested her. The other three woman do not alleged physical assault beyond kissing.
Moore insisted that all of the women were lying and that “The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal –– even inflict physical harm –– if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives.” Of course, if Moore is lying, he would be oner of the biggest and most evil frauds in the history as a man who ran on the religious right while hiding his prior history as a pedophile.
Then there are these women. If these allegations are false, they would be equally evil liars destroying a man’s reputation for political purposes.
In other words, there is clear defamation. In cases like this, I often wait to see who sues first. Discovery on a defamation claim is a chilling prospect for a public liar. While Moore is subject to the New York Times v. Sullivan standard as a public figure, he could seek to show knowing falsehood or reckless disregard of the truth if there is no evidence to support these claims. Indeed, his statements suggest that there is no truth at all to these allegations. For the women, Moore just gave them a gift if they are telling the truth. By defaming them, they could not pull him into court and, more importantly, discovery.
So let’s see who will sue first.