Jury selection commences today for a defamation suit against right-wing extremist Roy Moore over his verbal attacks on a woman who had accused him of sexually abusing her when she was 14.
Leigh Corfman had told the Washington Post in November 2017 that Moore -- then a candidate in an Alabama special election for U.S. Senate -- had molested her when she was a high school freshman and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. The scandal was widely credited for his stunning upset defeat a month later by Democratic former Sen. Doug Jones.
But the current trial is not about her allegations then, focusing instead on what Moore said about Corfman after she went public. Here’s how it was reported at Al.com:
“Since November 2017,” the first paragraph of the lawsuit said, “Defendants Roy Moore and his campaign committee, Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate, have defamed Ms. Corfman, repeatedly and in all forms of media, calling her a liar and questioning her motivation for publicly disclosing that Mr. Moore sexually abused her in 1979 when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.”
Moore has filed a countersuit charging Corfman with making “false and malicious” claims. It will be heard at the same time as Corfman’s suit against him, Al.com reported. Both suits are seeking unspecified financial damages.
The campaign committee has been dismissed as a defendant and Circuit Judge John Rochester, who is presiding in the case, in August rules that Corfman was a limited-purpose public figure when she filed her suit, a designation that raises her burden to prove defamation.
Here’s more from Al.com:
“Corfman told The Post and repeated in her lawsuit that she first met Moore at the Etowah County Courthouse in Gadsden in February 1979 when she and her mother attended a child custody hearing. Corfman was 14 and a high school freshman at the time.
“Moore offered to sit with Corfman while her mother attended the hearing, the lawsuit said, and their conversation ended with Moore asking Corfman for her phone number. Soon after, the lawsuit said, Moore called Corfman to arrange a meeting.
“The lawsuit said they eventually met twice with Moore picking Corfman up near her home on both occasions and driving to Moore’s home. At the second meeting, the lawsuit said, “Mr. Moore sexually abused Ms. Corfman. He provided Ms. Corfman with alcohol, flattered her, laid blankets and pillows on the floor, and took off her and his outer clothing. Wearing only undershorts, Mr. Moore touched Ms. Corfman’s private parts through her bra and underpants and guided her hand to touch his penis. Ms. Corfman resisted Mr. Moore and asked him to take her home.”
“In his countersuit, Moore said various polls had him leading the race over Jones by about 11 points.
“The statements made by Leigh Corfman were slanderous, libelous and were of such magnitude as to amount to defamation of Mr. Moore,” his countersuit said. “No evidence other than the self-serving testimony of Leigh Corfman exists to support her contention that she was sexually abused or pursued romantically by Mr. Moore when she was fourteen years of age.”
“Three weeks after Corfman’s allegations in The Washington Post, she released an open letter addressed to Moore the day after Moore said during a campaign speech that he did not know any of women who had made accusations of unwanted romantic advances against him.
“I demand that you stop calling me a liar and attacking my character,” Corfman’s letter of Nov. 28, 2017, said. “Your smears and false denials, and those of others who repeat and embellish them, are defamatory and damaging to me and my family.”
The trial could last as long as two weeks, with more than 50 individuals listed on the witness list, Al.com reported.