MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who accused failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of molesting her when she was 14.
Leigh Corfman said Moore defamed her and made false statements as he denied her accusations during the 2017 U.S. Senate race in Alabama. The sexual misconduct allegations helped derail Moore’s hopes of winning the election.
Corfman said she was a teen when Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, touched her sexually during a 1979 encounter. Corfman was one of several women who said Moore pursued them when they were teens and he was adult.
Moore has denied the accusations and countersued Corfman and other accusers for defamation.
“By this lawsuit, I seek to do what I could not do as a 14-year-old — hold Mr. Moore and those who enable him accountable,” Corfman said in a 2018 statement when the lawsuit was filed.
Lawyers said Circuit Judge John E. Rochester denied Moore’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Moore’s lawyers maintain that he only defended himself against the accusations and Corfman cannot prove Moore acted with malice.
“Each statement attributed to Judge Moore in Leigh Corfman’s complaint expresses a single uniform message: Judge Moore is innocent of having engaged in sexual misconduct with Corfman. He has merely denied the truth of her accusations and sought to defend his reputation against her attacks on his character,” his attorneys wrote in the unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case.
Corfman had also sued Moore’s campaign, but a judge dismissed that defamation claim.
Corfman and her mother have said that Moore first approached her as she waited outside a custody hearing at the Etowah County courthouse. Corfman said she later arranged to meet Moore and he took her to his home, where he initiated the encounter. Corfman said he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes except for his underwear before touching her over her bra and underpants.
Corfman’s accusation was first reported by The Washington Post.
Moore’s campaign was roiled by the accusations as he sought the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Moore, a Republican, lost the race to Doug Jones, the first Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in 25 years. Jones was defeated in the next election by Republican Tommy Tuberville.