Today the Washington Post dropped a bombshell. A woman has come forward to claim that decades ago Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was only 14 years old. He was 32 at the time, a prosecutor in Etowah County, Ala.
The details are horrifying. According to his accuser, Leigh Corfman, Moore took her back to his house, stripped off most of her clothes, touched her sexually, and tried to force her to touch him. Three other women have also come forward, alleging that Moore tried to date them or kiss them when they were teenagers ranging from 16 to 18 years old.
Conservatives, be careful. Don’t dismiss the claims. While I don’t know if the allegations are true, I’m deeply troubled on a number of grounds.
First, these women didn’t seek out the press. According to the Post report, its reporters reached out to them after hearing that “Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls.” So far as we know, they weren’t put forward by the opposing campaign, and the woman who made the most serious allegations against Moore says that she voted for Trump in 2016. None of the women have donated to Moore’s primary or general-election opponent.
Third, the youngest accuser’s explanation for her decision not to come forward earlier rings tragically true. She told the Post that “she did not share her story about Moore partly because of the trouble in her life. She has had three divorces and financial problems.” It’s a sad and terrible truth that childhood abuse can have catastrophic effects on young lives — effects that last for years.
She told reporters, “I felt like I had done something bad. And it kind of set the course for me doing other things that were bad.” This is so very often the case. An ambitious abuser sails on, accumulating fame and fortune. In the meantime, his victims are left shattered, picking up the pieces as the power imbalance only grows and grows. One person spirals downward. The other person climbs upward.
We are in the midst of a unique and important national moment. Each day seems to bring a new story of yet another powerful person facing a string of accusations. While there is a danger of a witch hunt, the presence of multiple claims of misconduct from multiple sources should always make us pause — regardless of whether the alleged abuser comes from the Left or the Right. It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.
Roy Moore is a dangerous man who never should have received the GOP nomination. Republican primary voters selected as their champion a person who seeks to suppress the civil rights of his fellow citizens and defies the law whenever it suits his ideological and political purposes. Even before today’s allegations, he was unfit to be a United States senator. Now the question is whether he’s dangerous, unfit, and vile.
The Alabama GOP options for replacing him on the ballot are limited, at best. It’s time to consider a write-in challenge, and if he wins the election, the Senate should consider expelling him from the body. He does not belong in American government.
— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.