Roy Moore’s inappropriate behavior with teenage girls was an open secret in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, where he badgered teens so often he was banned from the local mall, the New Yorker reports.
“He would go and flirt with all the young girls,” Blake Usry confirmed to AL.com, adding that tales about Moore have been floating around town for three decades. “It’d seem like every Friday or Saturday night, [you’d see him] walking around the mall, like the kids did.”
Five women have now come forward to publicly recount how Moore, a Republican currently running for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Session, tried to date them while he was a 30-something assistant district attorney and they were teens. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said she was just 14 years old — below Alabama’s age of consent — when Moore brought her to his home and molested her. Another woman, Beverly Young-Nelson, said Monday that Moore once locked her in his car and sexually assaulted her.
All of these alleged incidents took place in the late 1970s and early ’80s — around the time that several ex-mall employees, two cops, a handful of lawyers, and a major Alabama political figure told the New Yorker that they’d heard rumors that Gadsden Mall had been forced to ban Moore.
“The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one police officer told the New Yorker. Another added, “I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he’d been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off. … I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone.”
Local law enforcement and former mall managers were unable to confirm the existence of a ban on Moore to the New Yorker. One retired officer declined to discuss the ban, one manager said that a ban list existed but couldn’t remember whether Moore was on it, and another manager said the allegations against Moore were likely just liberal propaganda.
It’s clear, however, that many locals were generally creeped out by Moore. Teresa Jones, who said she worked with Moore during his tenure in Gadsen, called Moore’s behavior “common knowledge” on Twitter.
Jason Nelms remembered that, as a teenager, he’d hang out with his friends near a movie theater’s mall on weekend nights. The theater’s managers would try to keep an eye on the kids. When asked why, Nelms told the New Yorker, “they said that some older guy had been trying to pick up younger girls. They didn’t go beyond that, but one of the concession workers whispered to us later that it was Roy Moore he was talking about.”
Moore has denied all wrongdoing and denounced the allegations as liberal propaganda designed to hurt his campaign. Still, several senators, including Kentucky Republican and Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell are now calling for Moore to withdraw from the race.