Roy Moore Blames Accusers for Loss in Alabama Senate Race

Former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore holds up pages with a news story about himself as he speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Midland City, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(CN) – Saying his opportunity to seek political office was hindered, failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore filed a defamation lawsuit against three women who publicly accused him of sexual misconduct in the weeks leading up to the special election in Alabama.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Etowah County Circuit Court – the Alabama county where Moore lives – claims the twice-dismissed Alabama Supreme Court judge suffered financial damage and faced emotional distress “so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”

The complaint names three of the women that accused him of sexual misconduct during the campaign – Leigh Corfman, Beverly Young Nelson and Tina Johnson – in addition to Alabama residents Debbie Wesson Gibson and Richard Hagedorn and 19 fictitious defendants.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants “conspired and…associated with each other in a common design and purpose for the political objective of defaming the character and reputation of Roy and Kayla Moore in such a manner as to cause them to experience disgrace, shame and contempt.”

On Dec. 12, Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, won the special election in Alabama to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions thanks to a higher-than-expected turnout by minority voters fueled by the scandal surrounding Moore.

The embattled former judge claims Gibson and Hagedorn engaged in a social media campaign to defame him and made false statements to the Washington Post, while the other defendants had motives to try to damage his reputation.  

The Moores sued for negligence, wantonness, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, outrage and civil conspiracy. They are represented by Montgomery-based attorney Melissa Isaak.

In a statement, Isaak described the actions of the defendants as a “political conspiracy.”

“He has filed this action not only to hold accountable those who are guilty of slanderous and libelous conduct, but also to restore his good name, character, and reputation with the people of Alabama,” she said.

Corfman, whose story was reported by the Washington Post, accused Moore of undressing her, giving her wine and touching her over her underwear when she was 14 and he was 32, working as an assistant district attorney.

The Washington Post’s staff won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in April for their work covering Moore’s Senate race and breaking the allegations against him.

According to the Moores’ complaint, “Corfman’s actions were rewarded financially and were attended with such notoriety as to encourage her conduct.”

Corfman sued Moore in January for defamation, only asking that Moore apologize, retract his statements against her and pay the costs and expenses of bringing the lawsuit.

Neil Roman, an attorney representing Corfman, said in a statement that she stands behind her lawsuit.

“These latest claims by the Moore camp have no more merit than those he has made before. … Ms. Corfman is no longer a teenager and is not going to let Mr. Moore victimize her again,” Roman said.

Nelson accused Moore of assaulting her and making sexual advances while she sat with him in a car, leaving bruises on her neck. To corroborate her story, Nelson provided a high school yearbook that she said Moore signed.

During the closely watched Senate race, Moore and his campaign raised questions about the authenticity of Nelson’s yearbook entry. Monday’s complaint pointed out that Moore presided over Nelson’s divorce, signing an order dismissing the divorce action.

“That same signature was later forged in Nelson’s yearbook,” the lawsuit states.

Johnson, who accused Moore of grabbing her buttocks, also had a previous interaction with the former judge, according to the complaint.

“Johnson has a motive to harm the character and reputation of Judge Moore because of a past case in which he represented her mother to change legal custody of her son from herself to her mother,” the lawsuit states.

As for Hagedorn and Gibson, the failed Senate candidate alleges both made comments against him on social media and gave false statements to the Washington Post.

“Hagedorn not only conveyed false and malicious information to the WAPO but escorted its reporters for several days in Etowah County and attended meetings with other individuals, including Corfman and Wesson to further the false and malicious attacks on the character and reputation of Judge Moore,” the complaint states.

Moore and his wife ask for compensatory and punitive damages “in an amount that will adequately reflect the enormity of the defendants’ wrongful, outrageous acts and which will effectively deter other similar wrongful acts.”

Before running for Senate, Moore sat as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, a position he was twice removed from – once for refusing to move a monument to the Ten Commandments and more recently for issuing a directive saying Alabama did not need to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s order legalizing same-sex marriage.

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