Judge Roy Moore Denies Sexual Abuse Allegations, Mob Rule System Will Decide the Truth

Judge Roy Moore Denies Sexual Abuse Allegations, Mob Rule System Will Decide the Truth

Judge Roy Moore Denies Sexual Abuse Allegations, Mob Rule System Will Decide the Truth

Roy Moore, Republican candidate for senator of Alabama, has dug in. Earlier this week, four women came forward to tell their stories of sexual contact with Moore, only one of which would be criminal if the allegations are true. Their encounters with Moore happened more than 38 years ago, which does not mean their stories are false, only that their credibility suffers due to the lapse in time. Moore flatly denies knowing two of the women, but vaguely recalls the other two.

Roy Moore

The criminal allegation involves Moore “dating” a 14 year old girl. He was 32 at the time and a district attorney. She says they met at the courthouse, where he offered to sit with her (babysit?), while her mother went into a courtroom to deal with her legal matters (it looks like she was there for a divorce). When he was alone with the girl, he asked for her phone number. He subsequently called and arranged to pick her up around the corner from her house on two occasions. He took her to his house where they kissed on the first visit, and on the second he initiated some touching while they were both undressed to their undergarments. The girl asked to be taken home on both occasions and Moore did as she asked. Moore denies this ever happened and claims he does not know this person. The encounters recited by the other women all happened about the same time, when Moore was in his early 30s, and the young women were aged 16-18, above the age of consent in Alabama. We would look on that age gap as creepy, but there is nothing criminal about those encounters.

If the allegations from the 14 year old are true, there is no escaping the fact that Moore committed a criminal act, and anyone who commits a criminal act should not be honored by being able to represent Americans in the highest houses of Congress. In this case it is very unlikely, without a confession from Moore, that there will ever be a clear determination as to whether this happened. People will either choose to believe it or not, the epitome of he-said, she-said.

Things that make this a credible allegation are some corroborating evidence. The Washington Post reports that the girl’s mother was in the courthouse about the time claimed, that the girl did tell her mother about 10 years after it happened, and that the girl told two girlfriends about the encounters about the time of the incidents. Additional pattern behavior of Moore tends to show he liked to date much younger women, but that would never be evidence that could be used against him at trial – that is only good for conviction in the court of public opinion.

Things that make this allegation suspect are some problems with the circumstances of the revelation. This happened 38 years ago, that is a very long time. The longer a victim waits to report a crime, the less credible their story. Moore has loomed large as a political figure in Alabama for decades. If this was so troubling, it seems to many rational people that these allegations would have come out much sooner. This is being reported by the Washington Post, a newspaper that has exhibited clear bias against Republicans. This is coming out at a very important time during Moore’s election – only a few weeks to go before the voting, typical timing for an October-like surprise bombshell. Further, while not easily refutable, all these witnesses could be lying – the 14 year old girl, her mother, and her two friends. They all know each other and could’ve crafted the story together.

Now all of the problems with the credibility of the allegations do not prove they are untrue, and some may tend to think the line up of unfavorable facts tips the scale in favor of the accusers. There is no way to prove the allegations beyond witness statements – so we are left with being forced to fight over something that can never be known. It’s a terrible situation for Americans.

There are statutes of limitations on crimes and civil claims for a reason. A person cannot be made to defend himself for an indefinite number of years because at some point, we have decided that to prosecute that person would impinge upon his due process. This is our legal system, where we have agreed that a plaintiff or a prosecutor must bear the burden of proof when bringing a claim. Bringing a claim too long after the fact unfairly burdens the defendant to such a degree that his due process will be denied. Memories fade, witnesses die, documentation disappears. Surely this allows guilty men to walk among us, but it also guarantees that should we also be accused we will have our chance in a judicial system that respects the due process of innocent people as well. It is a balance we have struck in our social contract.

Over the years, this idea that claims that lay dormant for decades may be brought forward if they are heinous enough, has eroded the concept of statute of limitations. A classic example were those against the Catholic Church, where the Church was complicit in hiding away pedophile priests who terrorized parish after parish of young people. Many, many efforts were made to prosecute priests individually, and make claims against the Church. Not all were successful, but some were, and new suits for old allegations are being filed everyday. But today it seems that we don’t need the judicial system to get roughly equivalent results. Mere allegations can ruin reputations, cause job loss, family strife, general blackballing, and other worldly punishments – if not doled out by our justice system, then certainly handed down through the public shaming system. The repercussions seem like they may in some cases be quite equal or maybe even worse than judicial fines or imprisonment itself.

The problem with this unruly mob rule system of justice is that it is dispensed on an ad hoc basis, and results in an unfairness that highlights the hypocrisies of our social norms. Some people skate out of the allegation, others are harshly punished. The more these hypocrisies are laid bare, the more this divides our communities. While it is a good thing that a society would have social norms and expectations of behavior, it is a bad thing when those expectations are applied inconsistently and haphazardly. We have tipped the scales too far in the application of mob rule justice and we are reaping the rewards – a society that exists in defense mode – constantly on the edge of anger and violence. We need to pull back from this state of being to have any hope of delivering to our youth an America worth defending.

Therefore, I propose a bright line rule: Any allegation that comes forward outside the legal statute of limitations for the claim must be dismissed as not credible in the court of public opinion. This may sound harsh, but as a society we have allowed accusers to corrode the justice system by ignoring it altogether. Yes, there exists perfectly understandable and sympathetic reasons for allowing claims to lay dormant, but the unfairness of the extra-adjudication of such claims outside the legal system, diminishes our faith in an open society. Further, and more damaging, the dormancy perpetuates secrets and shame, the opposite of honesty and hope. Yes, it will be hard or even debilitating to come forward, but we have to create rules, norms, and expectations that encourage this brutal exposure. It is no less painful for a victim to come forward later, than it is sooner. Let’s teach people to come forward at or as near as possible to the time of the offense, and in any case no later than the statute of limitations on such offense.

Instead, we have created rules that actually encourage this dormancy – we are told to believe the accusers without scrutiny and excuse their delay because we want to be empathetic, but in turn do much injustice to the accused and others. There is no public defense that may be shown that can balance the scales in this mode of justice. The accuser wins every time – by permanently scarring the accused, and when that happens, another more insidious action is encouraged – that of false allegations. All a false accuser has to do is make the allegation and the scales of public justice are tipped indelibly in their favor. We should not encourage this result through our own niceness.

In many cases, allowing allegations to remain dormant also endangers future victims. Much better to face the difficulty as soon as possible than to let it fester for years and ruin even more lives. For untrue allegations, it makes it impossible for innocent people to defend themselves; and what’s more, the accuser is rightfully questioned in these cases, which is also bad as we strive to find protection for victims. The bottom line is that nobody wins when decades old allegations surface – not the victim, not the accused, not society. This alternative system of justice, mob rule, is very damaging to our society, but as long as people are in a state of elevated self-righteousness, there is no end in sight.

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12 Comments
  • Robin H says:

    The court of public opinion is too biased to drop any salacious tidbit that passes as news no matter how far after the statute of limitations.

    I hope Moore continues to investigate the Post, there are rumors that they paid these women to talk. If true he needs to sue them out of business.

  • Bucky Barkingham says:

    If Moore either drops out or loses the Senate race these allegations will go by the way side. At this point they don’t pass the smell test.

  • CaptDMO says:

    I wonder what sort of consequences Mr. Moore’s serendipitous accusers face if found to be disingenuous AFTER the elections?
    The same as Lois Learner?
    The same as Crystal Magnum?
    The same as Emma Sulkowicz?

  • Scott says:

    Good post, and one more point that i’d add, though it’s possible i missed it, IF the allegations are true, and IF the womans story is accurate, one more piece that would need to be asked… did he KNOW that she was 14?? Since 16 would have been legal, it’s not too far a stretch to say she could have lied about her age, or at the least, let him think she was “of age”..Not that it wouldn’t be creepy to have that big an age gap, but it would be somewhat less damning… and again, all this only matters if the story is true.. But I agree with your idea, and the concept of statute of limitations… the chance of getting an accurate recolection that far out is slim to none

    • Jenny North says:

      Thanks Scott. I didn’t mention what Moore knew, but you are right – since this was a girl sneaking out of her house to go meet him (did he know that too?) she may have told him lies, especially since she told her friends about it in a way that was sort of bragging.

      I think a lot of teenagers (especially girls) are always lying about their age (and the pictures of the other girls he dated make them look fully mature – not like little girls). It’s out there in popular culture too – having an older boyfriend is the plot of many a high school romantic comedy. Remember the older boyfriend who comes back for prom?! Maybe she didn’t know he was 32 either? All kinds of stuff we don’t know, but are very happy to assume and pass judgment on, because we are judge-y like that.

      David French has a piece on equating the idea of due process to these types and claims and says we don’t have to. He conflates legal process with mob rules. No, we don’t have to wait for due process to decide privately what we think about Moore, but for the good of the pubic we still ought to have standards about how we approach evaluating these things, and putting forth a 38 year old claim ought to weigh heavily against belief, imo.

  • Dana says:

    Roy Moore has run two previous statewide races; no such allegations were made. He went through two rounds in the Republican primary, but no one said anything. Only now, with just a month to go until the general election, do these allegations come out. It’s too late to replace Mr Moore as the republican nominee.

    Sorry, this does not pass the smell test: it’s a naked attempt to seize the Senate seat for the Democrats, and it seems like a lot of Alabamans believe that.

    Did Mr Moore attempt to f(ornicate) an underaged girl 38 years ago? Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t, but it can’t be proved either way. What we do know is that if Doug Jones wins, he will be trying to f(ornicate) the whole country, every day he is in office.

    If Mr Moore wins, and sufficient evidence emerges that yes, he did attempt to — but not succeed in — copulate with an underaged girl, he can either be forced to resign, or be expelled by the Senate. Then, the governor can appoint another Republican to fill the seat. That would be ugly, messy, and distasteful, but it’s better for our country than allowing a Democrat to take that seat.

    • Scott says:

      Well said on all counts Dana!

    • Jenny North says:

      Dana, this is close to the same point David Horowitz made – that even if true, the Democrat is still worse. Not a lot of people liked that comment, despite the fact that he was no Moore supporter to begin with.

      I like your solution though – if it is ever possible to find out the truth, there is a way to get Moore out of the Senate, and a replacement would be better than a Democrat.

  • Jenny North says:

    Excellent points everyone. I wasn’t really trying to prove or disprove the allegations here – it would be impossible to do so. But there are two more things that make the story more problematic imo. Following up on the idea that Moore has been a big political figure in Alabama for a long time, and it is only just now that the 14 year old victim felt she needed to come forward, and yet supposedly she has no ax to grind since she’s a Trump voter – then why didn’t she come forward at the time of the primary against Strange? Trump supported Strange and that would have been a perfect time to get Moore out of the race. But she waited until now when the GOP candidate is going to struggle rightly to hang onto a GOP seat. If she really cared about that (only a few weeks ago) she could have said something then.

    The reports are such that the WaPo found her though – so maybe it wasn’t her choice on timing. BUT if you read through the article I linked, the time when this information is discovered is obfuscated – the writer completely brushes over when they started investigating the rumors. I think probably to reveal when they had the information would do a lot to undermine the credibility of the article.

    Does it mean it is not true? Not at all. But I think it is very clear that the timing of this is entirely intentional. And so, I would say this proves WaPo is an instrument of bias – they should wait on a story until they have all the facts, but I think it’s clear if any waiting was done it was to do maximum damage to the GOP. This is nothing we don’t already know, but it is still disgusting nonetheless.

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