“The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates.”
More troubling reports about embattled Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore’s alleged behavior when in the late ’70s and early ’80s came to light on Monday. On the same day that famed attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference with a second sexual assault accuser against Moore, the New Yorker published a report that contains accounts from several locals of Gadsden, Alabama, who said that Moore’s alleged penchant for trying to pick up teenage girls was widely known. In fact, several claim he was effectively “banned” from the Gadsden Mall because of it.
The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea says that over the weekend he “spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls.”
Bethea reports that he talked with “five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees.” Some of Bethea’s sources allowed him to provide their names, while others asked to remain anonymous.
While the “active ban list” the mall security currently keeps doesn’t go back to the early-’80s, locals say that Moore’s alleged penchant for trolling for young girls has become a widely known rumor, with some saying they heard it back then and others saying they’ve heard it in the years since, something other sources have reported, as Bethea highlights:
“Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday. (Wilson declined to divulge his sources.) Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”
“Two of the women say that they first met Moore at the Gadsden Mall, and the Post reports that several other women who used to work there remembered Moore’s frequent presence—’usually alone’ and ‘well-dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt,'” Bethea writes.
Bethea quotes local Greg Legat, 59, who worked at the mall in early ’80s and saw Moore at the mall “a few times, even though his understanding then was that he had already been banned.”
“It started around 1979, I think,” Legat told Bethea. “I know the ban was still in place when I got there.” Legat provided the name of a Gadsden police officer, J. D. Thomas, who he said told him at the time, “If you see Roy, let me know. He’s banned from the mall.” Bethea reached out to Thomas, but he said only, “I don’t have anything to say about that.”
Another former local, Jason Nelms, told Bethea that “it was a joke” among the managers that they must keep an eye on the teenagers outside of the stores because “they said that some older guy had been trying to pick up younger girls. They didn’t go beyond that but one of the concession workers whispered to us later that it was Roy Moore he was talking about.”
Bethea also spoke with two officers who asked to remain unnamed who said they they had heard stories about Moore’s trolling at the mall for years. Here’s the passage:
“The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said. The legal age of consent in Alabama is sixteen, so it would not be illegal there for a man in his early thirties to date a girl who was, say, a senior in high school. But these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore’s presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. “I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he’d been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off,” one officer told me. He also said, “I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone.”
After the bombshell allegation by Beverly Young Nelson that Moore attempted to force himself on her in a car, and as other accounts of Moore’s alleged behavior in the late ’70s and early ’80s come to light, the chorus of voices from both sides of the aisle calling for him to step aside has become deafening.
Moore has adamantly denied all of the allegations, including Monday’s deeply disturbing allegation by Nelson, whom Moore claims he never met despite Nelson providing her high school yearbook allegedly signed by Moore as part of her evidence of the incident..