Roy Moore, Alabama’s Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, is alleged to have sexually abused a 14-year-old girl almost four decades ago when he was 32. An exposé in The Washington Post makes that charge and includes interviews with three other women who went on the record with claims of inappropriate behavior by Moore. Amid these accusations, politicians and activists have had an array of potent reactions.

Moore denied the charges in a written statement, saying, “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and The Washington Post on this campaign.” Hours after the story was published, Moore sent out a fundraising email asking for an “emergency contribution” in light of the allegations.

“The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced,” the email reads. “I won’t to [sic] get into the details of their filthy and sleazy attacks.”

On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that while President Trump says a “mere allegation” from years ago shouldn’t “destroy someone’s life,” he believes Moore “will do the right thing and step aside” if the allegations are true. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Moore, “If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”

Some other Republicans have taken a firmer stance, with Sen. John McCain calling the allegations “deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”

Additionally, Fox talk show host Sean Hannity has apologized for suggesting that the interaction between Moore and the 14-year-old was consensual, tweeting: “I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today.” He then blamed the “lazy media” for taking his words out of context.

Some Republicans have disparaged the women who came forward with claims against Moore. Alabama state Rep. Ed Henry said he thinks Moore’s accusers should be prosecuted. Henry told The Cullman Times: “You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations.” He added, “If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. … You can’t be a victim 40 years later.” He said that fabricating accusations of sexual assault is “too easy.”

Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler told the Washington Examiner that people should look to the Bible in Moore’s defense: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” he said. In regard to the Post allegations that Moore had removed the girl’s shirt and pants and “guided her hand to touch him over his underwear,” Ziegler defended Moore by saying they “never had sexual intercourse.” Ziegler also pointed out that the story is almost 40 years old.

Surely influenced by the nation’s wave of sexual abuse allegations, the U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation making sexual harassment training mandatory for senators, aides and interns. The Senate unanimously approved the measure, which marks the first time Congress has taken a tangible step toward addressing sexual harassment within its offices. Politico reports:

“Sexual and workplace harassment is a widespread problem that affects too many women and men in too many places, professions, and industries,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a lead sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement. “Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable at work, and the passage of this official Senate policy is an important measure to ensure that’s the case in these halls….”

The resolution comes after more than 1,400 former congressional aides, both Republican and Democrat, signed a letter urging House and Senate leaders to remake the sexual harassment policy on Capitol Hill. The current system requires victims of alleged sexual misconduct to go through 30 days of mandatory counseling. After that, there is a mediation process that must be completed before the victim can file a complaint.



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