Allegations of sexual misconduct levied against Alabama GOP Senate candidate and highly contentious former conservative judge, Roy Moore — that he pursued teenage women and initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl while in his 30s — have left the embattled politician with a rapidly dwindling support base.
In fact, the accusations, culled from interviews with more than 30 people and published by the Washington Post last week — all which Moore denies, categorically — have instead led nearly 40 percent of Alabama’s evangelical population to throw their support at his feet, asserting they’re even more likely to cast their ballot in his direction.
The Hill reports,
“A JMC analytics poll found that 37 percent of evangelicals surveyed said the allegations make them more likely to vote for the GOP Senate candidate in the upcoming election.
“Just 28 percent said the allegations made them less likely to vote for Moore and 34 percent said the allegations made no difference in their decision.
“In all, 29 percent of respondents in the poll said the allegations against Moore would make them more likely to vote for him, compared to 38 percent overall who said the allegations would make them less likely to vote for the candidate.”
According to one of the women, Moore initiated sexual contact when she was just 14 years old in 1979 — and he, 32. Other women say the now twice-removed Alabama Supreme Court Justice took an interest and pursued them inappropriately when they were teenagers, and he, in his 30s. Frivolous, if true, these accusations are not — but that doesn’t seem to alarm the conservative, religious group.
However, as Gregory J. Wallance points out for The Hill, a scandal involving sexual misconduct and worse by prominent public figures ordinarily might fall to the task of a PR fixer — employing counter-spin tactics to smear the reputations of the accusers, inundate media with refutation propaganda, and other typical options — but the Moore allegations came after those against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Seventy-nine women now say Weinstein victimized them — from simple inappropriate behavior, to that described as potentially criminal by USA Today — the repercussions of which toppled dominoes across industry lines, as has been the case with Roy Moore.
This time, Wallance surmises, the court of public judgement has turned ever so slightly to ‘believe’ the account proffered by victims of alleged sex crimes committed by often powerful and influential people, who otherwise have the means to hush both a media frenzy and a victim’s voice.
Considered a lockdown prior to the Post’s article, Moore has slipped in the senate race against Democrat opponent, Doug Jones — despite the nominal renaissance of support from segments of the evangelical community.
Politicians, as well, have begun to take a hard line against the irascible conservative.
Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today declared to the press from Louisville Moore “should step aside” and withdraw from the race — and that the victims are to be believed.
“I believe the women, yes,” McConnell asserted earlier today, quoted by the New York Times.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged that, “if the allegations prove to be true,” Moore should step down.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says “if the allegations prove to be true” Roy Moore should step down pic.twitter.com/Yp1wibcW1Y
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 12, 2017
Washington pols on both sides have urged caution against rushing to judgment over the Moore case, and, until and unless allegations are substantiated, he should not be considered a criminal prematurely.
Meanwhile, itinerant sexual harassment attorney Gloria Allred this afternoon called for a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear the testimony of another of Roy Moore’s alleged victims, Beverly Young Nelson.
Nelson worked at the Old Hickory House in the late 1970s, where Moore was a regular — and although he flirted persistently, the then-16-year-old kept a firm distance.
After offering the teen a ride when stranded by her boyfriend one night, she claims, Moore took her behind the restaurant and proceeded to grope her, desperately tried to remove her top, and — Nelson was convinced — was going to rape her.
“I was terrified,” she recalled for the press. “He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me.”
She added, “I had tears running down my face.”
Ultimately, Moore ‘gave up,’ shoved her from his vehicle, and sped angrily away — leaving her lying on the pavement in shock — but not before warning, “you’re just a child, and I’m the DA… and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.”
Maybe that had been the case decades ago, but — in the ironic and tragic wake of the Weinstein accusations — the tide has turned.
Image: Shutterstock/Nattapat Jitrungruengnij.