Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore has gone this week from flat-out denying a Washington Post story alleging he tried to initiate intimate encounters with extremely young women and one girl when he was in his 30s, to seemingly conceding that parts of the report are true.
The Post published an article Thursday afternoon, titled “Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32,” citing four women, and 30 additional witnesses, who claim Moore trawled high schools and malls in Alabama in the late 1970s looking for very, very young female companionship.
The story contains two allegations of illegal behavior. One woman, Leigh Corfman, claimed Moore tried to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old. She said specifically that Moore, who was 32 years old at the time, “touched her over her bra and underpants and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.”
Another woman, Gloria Thacker Deason, claimed a then-34-year-old Moore provided her with alcohol on dates when she was 19, just below the legal drinking age in the state of Alabama.
On Friday, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Moore was careful to deny all allegations of illegal behavior.
"I don’t know Miss Corfman from anybody," Moore said. "The allegations are completely false. I believe they’re politically motivated."
In reference to Deason, he added, "As I recall she was 19 or older. I never provided intoxicating liquor to a minor. I seem to remember her as a good girl."
Moore's team released a separate statement Friday reiterating these points: "I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct. As a father of a daughter and a grandfather of five granddaughters, I condemn the actions of any man who engages in sexual misconduct not just against minors, but against any woman."
As for the other stories — the ones that allege Moore sought intimate relationships with teenagers who were young enough as to need permission from their mothers to go on dates — the Republican senatorial candidate didn’t outright deny them Friday afternoon.
Moore conceded he remembered taking "young girls" on dates after he returned from serving in Vietnam. He then said of Deason, who was 19 when he was 34, “I don’t remember going out on dates. I knew her as a friend. If we did go out on dates, then we did. But I don’t remember that.”
It's curious that Moore can't remember dating her, considering he stressed in the same radio interview that he remembered she was at least "19 or older" at the time he definitely did not give her alcohol.
Pressed by Hannity on the question of whether he sought relationships with women who were younger than 18, and whether he sought encounters with 16- and 17-year-olds when he was in his 30s, Moore would only say, “It would have been out of my customary behavior.”
Moore also told Hannity that he didn’t recall “dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
“It hurts me personally because, you know, I’m a father,” Moore said. “I have one daughter, I have five granddaughters, and I have a special concern for the protection of young ladies.”
Now, take Moore’s remarks in his Hannity interview and contrast them with his flat-out denials.
When the Post story broke Thursday, Moore responded in a statement that read, “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”
His campaign said elsewhere that the Post’s “garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation.”
Moore’s team then said Thursday in a fundraising plea, "The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced!
“We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message," Moore said in a statement Thursday.
But on Friday, during a surprisingly tough interview with Hannity, Moore’s denials appeared to lose some bite. He was careful to stress he did nothing illegal, but when asked specifically whether he sought out teenagers when he was in his early and mid-30s, it’s worth noting that Moore’s response wasn’t an unequivocal “no.”