Responding to allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct with teenagers, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore categorically denied the reports but was inconsistent in his defense.
Moore began his appearance on conservative pundit Sean Hannity’s radio show by saying, “These allegations are completely false and misleading.”
He then said, “After my return from the military I dated a lot of young ladies.” Four women have accused him of pursuing them when he was in his 30s and they ranged in age from 14 to 18. But Moore then changed his tune, saying “I don’t remember” dating women that much younger than him, and, “I don’t remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.” And later he said “it would have been out of my customary behavior” to date women that young when he was in his thirties.
“This never happened, they know it never happened, and obviously you don’t wait 40 years to bring up something like this,” he said.
He was similarly contradictory talking about the specific allegation from Gloria Thacker Deason, who told the Washington Post she was 18 when she went on dates with Moore and he gave her Mateus Rosé wine. The legal drinking age in Alabama at the time was 19. He said he didn’t remember going on dates with Deason, though he acknowledged he knew her. Then, he said, “As I recall, she was 19 or older, that just never happened, I never provided alcohol, beer or intoxicating liquors to a minor… I seem to remember her as a good girl.”
He also said he remembered knowing Debbie Wesson Gibson, though does not remember speaking to her high school civics class, as she claimed. “I seem to remember knowing her parents,” he said. “I remember her as a good girl.” He said he does not remember going on dates with her.
But Moore categorically denied engaging in sexual behavior with then 14-year-old Leigh Corfman. “I don’t know Ms. Corfman from anybody,” Moore said. “I’ve never talked to her, never had any contact with her.” He claimed her accusations are “politically motivated.”
“If you abuse a 14 year old, you shouldn’t be a Senate candidate,” Moore said. “But I did not do that.”
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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com