Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore's account of when he began dating his wife Kayla would place the start of their courtship before her divorce from her first husband, according to court documents.
This comes as the Moore campaign's defense of the retired judge against multiple allegations of sexual misconduct hinges on disputing minute details of the accusers' versions of events.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Examiner asked Moore's campaign to explain apparent contradictions between his account of his relationship with Kayla Kisor and information contained in public records.
“Regardless of when they met, Judge and Kayla did not date while she was still with her ex-husband or legally married,” campaign spokesman Brett Doster responded by email.
Moore claims in his 2005 book “So Help Me God” to have met Kayla at a church gathering the week before Christmas in 1984.
“I was determined to get to know her, but Kayla, divorced and with a beautiful little girl, Heather, who was nearly a year old, was not interested in a relationship with anyone,” he later wrote of the encounter.
Divorce records obtained by the Washington Examiner show that Kayla, however, had not yet even filed for divorce from her first husband, John Charles Heald, by the time she caught Moore’s attention at the Christmas gathering. In fact, Kayla and Heald had only just separated on Dec. 1, 1984, two weeks before her and Moore’s serendipitous introduction.
The same records show Kayla filed for divorce at a courthouse in Floyd County, Ga., on Dec. 28, 1984. The divorce was finalized nearly four months later on April 19, and a permanent custody judgment was issued on Jan. 9, 1989.
By Moore’s account, he and Kayla began dating “soon after” she visited the law office of his colleague “early in the new year” of 1985. They dated for “about a year,” he claimed, before becoming engaged and then married on Dec. 14, 1985.
That would lead readers to believe the pair began dating in late 1984 or early 1985, a period during which court records show his bride-to-be was still legally married to Heald and would be until the spring.
"That was always an assumption," a source with knowledge of Kayla's first marriage said when asked whether she dated Moore before finalizing her divorce. The same source said Moore gave Kayla's daughter a puppy for Valentine's Day in 1985, further suggesting that he and Kayla were seeing each other at that time.
The overall discrepancy is what prompted the Washington Examiner to contact Moore’s campaign, a request his spokesman characterized as “really scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
Moore’s campaign, however, has been eager to discredit his accusers based on alleged inconsistencies in marginal details of their accounts, down to the location of a dumpster at the Old Hickory House restaurant, outside of which a former waitress claims she was sexually assaulted by Moore.
The campaign and its close allies have also questioned whether there was a phone installed in the bedroom of one of his accusers; whether a yearbook signature that appears to belong to Moore was doctored; and whether a woman, who claims she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her, was capable of walking one mile to a location where he once picked her up.
Amid an outpouring of misconduct allegations, Moore’s campaign has clearly set the standard that details are important and should be vetted rigorously. Why, then, should the inconsistencies surrounding Moore’s story not draw his own credibility into question?
Doster, Moore’s spokesman, said Kayla returned to Alabama in 1984 “after a difficult marriage,” a description confirmed throughout the pages of her divorce file.
According to a marriage certificate obtained by the Washington Examiner, Kayla, then 21, married Heald, 20, in Alabama on June 5, 1982. Two-and-a-half years after they exchanged vows, Kayla filed for divorce, citing “cruel treatment during the marriage” in the complaint.
The court in 1989 awarded Kayla permanent custody of Heather, who had been adopted by Moore.
Kayla’s second marriage, to Moore, started off on an unusual note, as she filed for bankruptcy a day after they applied for a marriage license and four days before they ultimately tied the knot, court records show.
“You probably more typically see that done the other way,” said Thomas Knight, an Alabama attorney who used to represent Kayla’s father, explaining it is abnormal for someone to “entangle a new spouse” in bankruptcy.
Given all this information, Moore appears to have written a more favorable version of history in which he never dated a married woman before she was legally divorced.
If the judge is elected next Tuesday, and Senate investigators get to work on an ethics probe, this could look less like barrel scraping and more like barely scraping the surface of his past
This article has been updated to reflect the correct year in which Kayla's daughter Heather was born.