Roy Moore: another woman comes forward with allegations

 In U.S.

More women came forward Wednesday with allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama GOP senate candidate Roy Moore, bringing the total number of accusers to at least eight. Tina Johnson of Gadsden, Alabama, told AL.com that Moore “grabbed” her butt in his law office in 1991 during a meeting about a custody petition. Two more women also told the Washington Post that Moore repeatedly asked them out when they worked at the mall in the late 70s. One, Gena Richardson — then a senior in high school — said Moore forcibly kissed her.

Johnson was 28 years old at the time of alleged incident in 1991 — the most recent of all the accusations. Richardson said she was 17 just before Moore first approached her at mall job in 1977. The third woman, identified as Becky Gray, had been 22 when Moore made his unwanted advances.

The five other women who have spoken out were teenagers at the time of their encounters with Moore, ranging from 14 to 18. Moore would have been in his early 30s at the time.

Another woman, Kelly Harrison Thorp, also told AL.com that Moore had tried to ask her out in 1982, when she was 17, though she turned him down.

Together, the new revelations add to the mounting evidence that Moore tried to pick up and initiate sexual relations with teens, and that his interest in dating women more than 10 years his junior had turned into something of an open secret in the Gadsden community.

Johnson says Moore “grabbed” her butt

Johnson told AL.com that she visited Moore’s office in 1991 for a meeting about custody of her 12-year-old son. She planned to give custody to her mom, who had hired Moore to handle the petition.

Johnson, a 28-year-old mother on the verge of divorce, recalled a deeply uncomfortable atmosphere in Moore’s office, where Moore flirted with her and commented repeatedly on her looks, though her mother also attended the meeting. She told AL.com:

At one point during the meeting, she said, Moore came around the desk and sat on the front of it, just inches from her. He was so close, she said, she could smell his breath.

According to Johnson, he asked questions about her young daughters, including what color eyes they had and if they were as pretty as she was.

The meeting concluded, and after Johnson’s mother left the room, Moore came up behind Johnson and groped her behind. “He didn’t pinch it; he grabbed it,” Johnson recalled.

Johnson said she told her sister later on about the incident, who corroborated her story. “This is not a politics thing with me,” she said on why spoke out now. “It’s more of a moral and religious thing.”

Two more women say Moore pestered them at the mall

Gena Richardson, 58, and Becky Gray, 62, both say Moore first approached them in their late teens and early 20s while they were working at the mall in Gadsden — a popular local hangout in the 1970s and 1980s and where Moore, then a rising prosecutor, had a reputation for trying to pick up young women.

Richardson told the Post that Moore first introduced himself to her around her 18th birthday, while she worked in the men’s department at Sears. At some point, Moore asked for her phone number, but Richardson declined, saying her father wouldn’t approve. That did not stop Moore, Richardson explained to the Post:

A few days later, she says, she was in trigonometry class at Gadsden High when she was summoned to the principal’s office over the intercom in her classroom. She had a phone call.

“I said ‘Hello?’” Richardson recalls. “And the male on the other line said, ‘Gena, this is Roy Moore.’ I was like, ‘What?!’ He said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m in trig class.’”

Richardson turned Moore down again, but he continued to hound her, asking her out again at Sears. She caved and agreed to meet him for a late movie. Afterwards, Moore offered to drive her to her car. According to Richardson:

“I just explained to him that my dad’s a minister, and you know, I just can’t sneak around because that’s wrong,” she recalls. “So I thanked him and started to get out and he grabbed me and pulled me in and that’s when he kissed me.

“It was a man kiss — like really deep tongue. Like very forceful tongue. It was a surprise. I’d never been kissed like that,” she says. “And the minute that happened, I got scared then. I really did. Something came over me that scared me. And so I said, ‘I’ve got to go, because my curfew is now.’ ”

A friend and co-worker backed up Richardson’s story, and the Post confirmed Moore’s frequent, often uncomfortable presence around the mall around the time of the allegations with a dozen people.

One other woman, Becky Gray, said Moore also repeatedly asked her out as a 22-year-old while she worked at the store Pizitz. Gray told Moore ‘no’ again and again, but she told the Post he was often not deterred:

Gray says he was persistent in a way that made her uncomfortable. She says he lingered in her section, or else by the bathroom area, and that she became so disturbed that she complained to the Pizitz manager, Maynard von Spiegelfeld. Gray says he told her that it was “not the first time he had a complaint about him hanging out at the mall.”

The Washington Post first reported on the stories of four women last Thursday, including one woman who says she was 14 when Moore, then 32, kissed and groped her. (The legal age of consent in Alabama was and is 16.) Two of the women in that account — Gloria Thacker Deason and Wendy Miller — said Moore also approached them at the mall. Gloria Thacker Deason, who was then 18, also worked at Pizitz.

On Monday, another woman came forward at a press conference, saying that Moore sexually assaulted her in his car when she was 16. She said she met Moore at the restaurant where she worked, of which he was a regular patron.

Johnson’s allegations stand out for her age — she was 28 at the time, while Moore’s other accusers were in their teens. This is also the first accusation against Moore while he was married to his wife, Kayla. They wed in 1985.

Thorp, meanwhile, told AL.com she was working as a 17-year-old hostess in the Gadsden Red Lobster when Moore asked her out. She said she asked him if he knew her age. “And he said,” she recounted, “’Yeah. I go out with girls your age all the time.'”

Moore has remained defiant as the allegations mount. He has called the prior allegations “completely false and misleading,” trying to paint this as an attack on his Christianity and a Democratic and GOP smear campaign weeks ahead of the special election. His wife has defended him (and has since been caught up in a scandal of her own.)

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