An editorial published by three of Alabama’s largest newspapers on Monday called Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore “grossly unfit for office” in the wake of allegations that he initiated sexual encounters with girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s.
“Roy Moore simply cannot be a U.S. Senator. Even if his party and many of its adherents still think it possible, it is unthinkable — for his state, and his country,” the AL.com editorial board, which feeds newspapers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville, wrote. "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. When choosing our representative before the rest of the world, character matters.”
Allegations against Moore first surfaced last week in a Washington Post report alleging that the former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge had initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he 32-year-old district attorney. Three other women quoted in the story said Moore took them on dates when they were high-school aged, ranging from 16 to 18 years old.
On Monday, another woman held a press conference in New York and told reporters that Moore had sexually assaulted her when she was 16, attempting to force her head towards his genitals and then warning her that nobody would believe her if she told anyone about the encounter.
Moore has denied any wrongdoing and has said the accusations against him are a Democratic plot to undermine his candidacy for the Senate. During a radio interview last week, Moore did not rule out having dated teenage girls while he was in his 30s, telling host Sean Hannity that he could not “remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
The allegations have brought immense pressure on Moore from Republicans nationwide, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to abandon his Senate campaign. But it has also brought significant criticism from Moore’s supporters onto his accusers, whose credibility has been questioned in some conservative circles.
“We believe these women,” the writers of the Alabama editorial argued, noting that the reporting of their own media group had not cast any doubt on the Post’s reporting and had, in fact, corroborated some of the allegations.
Moore has so far resisted calls to step aside, and it appears unlikely, if not impossible, that the Alabama GOP could remove him from the ballot.
Beyond the accusations that have appeared in recent days, Moore’s past conduct “has already revealed himself as grossly unfit to be a U.S. Senator,” the editorial’s authors wrote. The former state supreme court chief judge was twice removed from the bench, once for refusing to remove a monument to the 10 Commandments from rotunda of the Alabama judicial building and once for refusing to recognize the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
He has previously said that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal, that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress and that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a punishment from God.
“It’s time that he and his party read the writing on the wall: His candidacy is over. His true character has been revealed. It’s time for the GOP to remove its official support,” the AL.com editorial said. “And since he and his party can’t assure it, the voters of Alabama must.”