Roy Moore Sues Women Who Accused Him Of Misconduct, Alleging Defamation

Failed Senate candidate Roy Moore is suing several of the women who accused him of sexual misconduct during last year's campaign.

Failed Senate candidate Roy Moore, who lost the Special Election to succeed Jeff Sessions in the Senate back in December, has filed a lawsuit against four of the women who accused him of sexual assault and other improper behavior, has filed a lawsuit against four of his accusers alleging that they had engaged in defamation and in a conspiracy designed to hobble his Senate campaign:

Roy Moore, the former Senate candidate from Alabama who has been accused of pursuing sexual and romantic relationships with teenagers, sued four of his accusers on Monday, alleging that they had defamed and conspired against him.

In a lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Etowah County, Ala., where Mr. Moore lives, he accused the women — Leigh Corfman, Debbie Gibson, Tina Johnson and Beverly Nelson — of committing libel and slander “by making statements which were false, malicious, and made with intentional or reckless disregard of the truth and with the intent that those statements be published to others, including through state and national media.”

“Those statements caused harm to the reputation and character of Judge Moore and also to his wife Kayla, lowered their standing in the community and discouraged members of the community from associating with them,” the lawsuit said.

Mr. Moore is seeking compensatory damages for lost income and professional opportunities, as well as punitive damages.

Ms. Corfman responded in a statement released by her lawyer, Neil Roman: “These latest claims by the Moore camp have no more merit than those he has made before. Leigh Corfman stands by the accuracy of every one of her statements about Mr. Moore’s sexual abuse of her when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Ms. Corfman is no longer a teenager and is not going to let Mr. Moore victimize her again.”

Ms. Johnson’s lawyer, Paula Cobia, cast the lawsuit as a money grab.

“Mr. Moore continues his solicitation for money from his followers to fund the meritless lawsuit he filed today, a suit in which he seeks to enrich himself by demanding compensatory and punitive damages,” Ms. Cobia said in a statement. She added: “Ms. Johnson stands by and reaffirms the truthfulness of every statement she has made about the sexual assault she suffered from the hands of Mr. Moore. He has lost any power of intimidation he once held.”

Gloria Allred, a lawyer for Ms. Nelson, declined to comment, and Ms. Gibson did not respond to a phone call and text message on Monday.

All four women went public with their accounts in the fall of 2017, not long before a special Senate election in December in which Mr. Moore was running as a Republican against Doug Jones, a Democrat. Mr. Jones went on to win the election, becoming the first Alabama Democrat elected to the United States Senate in more than two decades.

The allegations differed in their specifics and severity, but painted the same big picture: repeated sexual predation by a man who built his judicial career on his image as a moral crusader.

More from AL.com:

An attorney for Roy Moore said at a press conference Monday afternoon in Gadsden that the former U.S. Senate candidate has filed a lawsuit in Etowah County Circuit Court for political conspiracy, among other counts.

The defendants include four women who have made accusations against Moore: Leigh Corfman, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Beverly Young Nelson and Tina Johnson.

Moore also spoke extensively at the press conference, his first public comments since Dec. 12 when he lost the special Senate election to Doug Jones.

He said he had no intentions at this time to run for public office and reiterated his denials of the women’s claims of unwanted romantic and sexual advances by him.

An attorney for Roy Moore said at a press conference Monday afternoon in Gadsden that the former U.S. Senate candidate has filed a lawsuit in Etowah County Circuit Court for political conspiracy, among other counts.

The defendants include four women who have made accusations against Moore: Leigh Corfman, Debbie Wesson Gibson, Beverly Young Nelson and Tina Johnson.

Moore also spoke extensively at the press conference, his first public comments since Dec. 12 when he lost the special Senate election to Doug Jones.

He said he had no intentions at this time to run for public office and reiterated his denials of the women’s claims of unwanted romantic and sexual advances by him.

Corfman was the most prolific accuser, saying when she was 14 and Moore was 32, he undressed her and touched her over her underwear while also encouraging her to touch him over his underwear. Nelson alleged that Moore attempted to sexually assault her in his vehicle and eventually pushed her from the vehicle. Johnson alleged that Moore grabbed her buttocks as she was leaving his law office.

“Those accusations involved events that supposedly occurred from 26 to 40 years ago,” the lawsuit said. “Yet they all coincidentally surfaced for the first time within a seven-day period, a mere 32 days before the December 12 general election.”

The lawsuit maintains Wesson made comments on social media that indicated her political leanings as a Democrat and expressed support for Doug Jones, who defeated Moore in the U.S. Senate special election. Wesson told The Washington Post in the Nov. 9, 2017, that first reported the allegations that she dated Moore as a teenager and that their relationship never advanced beyond kissing.

Hagedorn met with “an agent” of The Post in October 2017 — almost a month before the newspaper first published the allegations. Hagedorn’s brother, David, is a columnist for The Post, according to the lawsuit. Richard Hagedorn criticized Moore on social media for opposing gay marriage, the lawsuit said, and that David Hagedorn has a same-sex partner to whom he is married.

The encounter Corfman said he had with Moore was the headline on the story and the lead of the story, according to the lawsuit.

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

Regarding Hagedorn, the lawsuit said, “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 day The Post story was published, Hagedorn posted on social media that Corfman was a “fried of 40 years.”

Hagedorn also expressed support for Nelson after she held a press conference making her allegations on Nov. 14, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants in the case “have committed libel and slander against Judge Moore by making statements which were false, malicious, and made with intentional
or reckless disregard of the truth and with the intent that those statements be published to others including through state and national media. Those statements caused harm to the reputation and character of Judge Moore and also to his wife Kayla, lowered their standing in the community, and discouraged members of the community from associating with them.

“By making such statements to the public media, each of the defendants knew or should have known that their comments would be widely disseminated, exposing Judge Moore and also his wife Kayla, to disgrace, ridicule, odium and contempt resulting in general and special damages. Judge Moore suffered economic harm both in the U.S. Senate campaign and in time expended refuting the false allegations.”

The background to this Complaint should be familiar to anyone who followed the Alabama Senate race in the final months of last year. It started, of course, in mid-November with a report from The Washington Post in which four women came forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate behavior, including Leigh Corfman who alleged that Moore committed what would most likely amount to sexual assault against her when she was just 14 years old. On Monday, Beverly Young Nelson became Moore’s fifth accuser when she said in a public statement that Moore had assaulted her in his car in the rear parking lot of the diner where she worked when she was 16 years old. After that, four more women came forward with similar claims against Moore regarding improper and unwanted contact from Moore when they were teenagers and he was an unmarried Assistant District Attorney in his mid-30s. While this was going on, one group of Moore supporters tried to trick The Washington Post into going with a false claim against Moore by another woman and that another group had attempted to bribe the attorney for Leigh Corfman, the first woman to speak out against Moore, to abandon her and claim she was lying. Both efforts failed.

Because of these allegations, support for Moore began to peel away. Additionally, Republicans at the national and state level began to distance themselves from him, including Alabama’s senior Senator Richard Shelby, and both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee both pulled their money and support from Moore’s campaign. Additionally, several sitting Republican Senators such as Cory Gardner and Ron Johnson suggested that moves would be made to expel Moore from the Senate and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said early on that Moore should end his campaign and was reportedly willing to let the seat go to a Democrat if Moore did not drop out. Additionally, nearly every Republican Senator who had endorsed Moore after he won the runoff election against former Senator Luther Strange withdrew their endorsement with the only exception to that rule being Kentucky’s Rand Paul, whose office never commented on why the Senator failed to do what even equally conservative fellow Senators like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee had done. In any case, Moore went on to lose to Democratic opponent Doug Jones by over 20,000 votes, reducing the Republican majority in the Senate to a single seat.

This isn’t the only lawsuit that Moore has filed in connection with his ill-fated Senate campaign. Back in December, he filed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud in the election that seemed frivolous on its face and which in any case did nothing to prevent the Alabama Secretary of State from certifying the election results so that Jones could be sworn into office. Additionally, Moore was sued in January for defamation by Leigh Corfman, the woman who accused him of assaulting her when she was 14 and Moore filed a countersuit accusing Corfman of defamation. It does not appear that there have been any significant legal developments in either case.

As for this case, Moore and his wife, both of whom are Plaintiffs, allege that at least three of the nine women who accused him of sexual misconduct, as well as a fourth person who is apparently related to one of the women, engaged in some kind of conspiracy to undermine his campaign and cause personal injury to the reputations of Moore and his wife. As is typically the case with claims like this, the Complaint is heavy on accusations but rather empty of any allegations of specific facts that would demonstrate that these women knew each other or that they had engaged in any kind of conspiracy against the Moore family or campaign. Presumably, this will all come out in the course of discovery but it’s hard to see Moore succeeding unless he has evidence of direct conduct between and among these women and evidence of an actual conspiracy between them. So far, that seems to be lacking to say the least.

The most significant fact about a lawsuit such as this, is that as much as it would open the door to discovery for Moore, it would do the same for the individual Defendants. Based on the allegations alone, they would be able to ask Moore questions not only about their conduct toward him but also their conduct toward other young women back during the relevant time period. If there is any such evidence, it would dramatically impact Moore’s claims that the allegations made by these women are untrue as well as the alleged damages to his reputation as a result of their charges. Additionally, it goes without saying that as in any other defamation case truth is the “utlimate defense” to this type of claim. This means the women will be free to bring forward whatever corroborating evidence they can at this point, including the testimony of friends or family who were made aware of what Moore had done at the time it happened. This would also undercut Moore’s efforts to prove even under the lesser standards that apply in a civil case that his claims are true. In any case, while Moore is largely irrelevant in a political sense at this point, this will be an interesting little sideshow to watch.

Here’s the Complaint:

Moore v. Hagedorn et al by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2017, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Shooting his little popgun off again, I see. With about as much effect. I assume he really has to do this to show his religious dupes that he really is innocent of these horrible charges by those over-sexed women who probably came on to him, the tramps. And it gives him an excuse to fundraise again, since the elect-me-stop-laughing-I’m-serious money grab had pretty much petered out.

    Is there a link?

  2. @Not the IT Dept.:

    I didn’t mention it in the post, but Moore continues to raise money for his “legal defense fund,” which he obviously intends to use to dupe people into paying his legal bills for him.0

  3. Mister Bluster says:

    Can’t see the complaint…

  4. Joe says:

    While I understand that libel and slander may be actionable, what is the cause of action for conspiracy to keep someone from being elected. Isn’t that the secondary (if not primary) goal of every political party?

  5. @Mister Bluster:

    Yea the HTML code was in the post but it wasn’t showing up properly. I reinserted the code again and it looks like it should be fine. Let me know if you still can’t see it.

  6. @Joe:

    It seems the conspiracy count is based on the allegation that these women, along with the help of the male relative of one of them, were somehow acting together to injure Moore with false allegation not so much that they were campaigning against them. It all hinges on accepting the assumption that all these women were lying.

  7. Kylopod says:

    In America, the burden of proof is always on those alleging defamation. (In Britain, not so much.) So Moore’s accusers don’t have to prove that his sexual misconduct acts occurred; rather, he pretty much has to prove that the acts didn’t occur. Furthermore, being a public figure he’d need to prove not just that the women lied but that they acted with intentional malice and reckless disregard for the truth. So even if everything he claimed here was accurate, the case would still be practically unwinnable.

  8. Gustopher says:

    Can you sue a minor for slander and defamation?

    (insert rimshot sound here)

    Right Wing Virtue Signalling. He has no chance of winning, he just wants to show that Good Christians are being persecuted by harlots and trollops.

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  9. Mike says:

    Is it even possible to defame that hypocrite

    let his right wing zealots give him their hard earned money. They deserve each other.

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Another scheme to fleece his idiot fans of their hard earned cash.

    That having been said, I hope he enjoys the receiving end of discovery