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Judge weighs defamation claim against Roy Moore

Roy Moore

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers squared off in state court Monday on whether Roy Moore made defamatory statements during the 2017 U.S. Senate race against a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.

Judge John E. Rochester held a hearing on Moore's request for summary judgment in the defamation lawsuit against him.

Leigh Corfman said Moore molested her decades ago, when she was 14 and he was 32. Corfman last year filed a lawsuit against Moore and his Senate campaign committee saying they defamed her as a liar when they denied the accusation.

"We have repeated, systematic attacks on Ms. Corfman," argued Jeff Doss, an attorney representing Corfman.

Moore attorney Melissa Isaak argued that the political firebrand was merely defending himself by calling the accusations untrue.

"Judge Moore is being sued for simply denying the allegations. ... There is nothing that attacks Leigh Corfman," she said.

Moore, a former Alabama chief justice who was twice removed from the bench for defying court orders regarding same-sex marriage and the Ten Commandments, is asking a judge to rule that the statements could not be considered defamatory and to rule in his favor instead of sending the case to trial.

The lawsuit cites statements denying the allegations and accusing Corfman of not telling the truth. Moore on several occasions denied knowing Corfman. In a church speech, he dismissed the misconduct allegations against him as "dirty politics."

Isaak said Moore and campaign volunteers and staff were expressing their opinions when they called the accusations politically motivated. She asked Rochester to evaluate each statement by Moore.

Rochester did not indicate when he would rule.

The lawsuit, filed in Montgomery Circuit Court, asks Moore to publicly apologize. When she filed the lawsuit in 2018, Corfman said she was seeking, "to do what I could not do as a 14-year-old — hold Mr. Moore and those who enable him accountable."

Moore lost the 2017 race to U.S. Sen. Doug Jones amid the allegations and is running again in the 2020 GOP primary for the Senate seat.

Corfman was the youngest of several women who said Moore pursued them romantically when they were teens. Moore denied the misconduct allegations.

Moore countersued Corfman and other accusers, but that lawsuit was paused pending the outcome of the Montgomery case.

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