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Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, said in a new interview Friday that the report he forced a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl in 1979 when he was 32 is a "manufactured" story meant to derail his campaign.
"I never knew this woman, and these charges are politically motivated," Moore said, referring to Leigh Corfman, now 53, who told The Washington Post in a story Thursday that Moore, now 70, had initiated sexual contact with her.
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Moore told Sean Hannity on his radio show that he did know Corfman and that there was no sexual wrongdoing with her or any other woman. He claimed the story was cooked up by "desperate" Democrats and establishment Republicans, which he called "collusion" between the parties to stop him from getting to Congress.
"I don't know Ms. Corfman from anyone. I never talked to her," Moore said. "This never happened, they know it never happened and, obviously, you don’t wait 40 years to bring up something like this."
"They want to confuse this like they did with President Trump and the Russian thing," he added.
The allegations come about a month before the December 12 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Polls show Moore with a comfortable lead over Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney.
In Washington, more than a dozen Republican senators have urged Moore to withdraw if the report is true.
"They’re not even giving me the presumption of innocence," said Moore, a former Alabama chief justice. "They wouldn't make a judge."
The Post's story also detailed three other women who alleged Moore propositioned them sexually or romantically when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s.
Moore said he was familiar with two of the women but said he never had any sexual contact with them.
He said he recognized Debbie Wesson Gibson, who told the paper that when she was 17 she went on several dates with Moore that did not go beyond kissing. He also said he knew Gloria Thacker Deason, who told the paper she was 18 when Moore began taking her out on dates, where they drank wine when the legal drinking age was 19 at the time.
"You understand this is 40 years ago, and after my return from the military, I dated a lot of young ladies," Moore said.
"Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?" Hannity asked.
"No, I don't remember," Moore said. "I don't remember that and I don't remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother."
Moore said, "The behavior was always appropriate."
Hannity ended the interview asking Moore if someone should be a candidate if they made sexual advances toward a 14-year-old.
"If you abuse a 14-year-old you shouldn't be a Senate candidate," Moore said. "But I didn't do that."