Assuming it matters to Alabama voters on Tuesday whether they might be voting for someone who as an adult fondled the genitals of an underage girl, I think I can distill the concerns over Roy Moore’s past into a single question:
Is it reasonable to conclude that Moore at age 32 assaulted a 14-year-old given evidence of his involvement with other, slightly teenage older girls?
My answer is yes and in a politically polarizing world, I’m choosing instead to use evidentiary thinking even if much of this would be inadmissible in a court of law because it is too damning. Nevertheless, I think a person’s custom and practice tell us a great deal.
First, my baseline, just about the only thing we know for sure: Moore was 38 when he married his wife, Kayla Kisor, 24. Nothing illegal, probably an eyebrow-raiser at best. The older men get, the greater the pass they seem to acquire from society for dating women their junior. But still it tells us about his interest, at least in one case.
Then there are several women who have told similar stories to the Washington Post.
Wendy Miller was 14 and working as a Santa’s helper at the Gadsden Mall when she says Moore, then in his early 30s, first took an interest in her, and 16 when he asked her out.
Gloria Thacker Deason was 18 and Moore was 32 when she says they met at the mall where she worked for a jeweler and they began dating.
Debbie Wesson Gibson saved her high school scrapbook documenting that after she met Moore as a speaker in her high school civics class, he accompanied her parents to her high school graduation. She wrote a hand notation reading “3-4-81. Roy S. Moore and I went out for the first time. We went out to eat at Catfish Cabin in Albertville. I had a great time.” She was then 17 and he was 34.
Beverly Young Nelson is the accuser represented by Gloria Allred. She was 16 when she claims Moore assaulted her after she finished a shift at a local restaurant. Moore claims not to know her but she has produced a yearbook in which Moore had inscribed a greeting.
Put it all together: When Moore was 38, he married a 24-year-old (Kisor). When he was 34, he dated a 17-year-old (Gibson). When he was 32, he dated an 18-year-old (Deason). When he was in his early 30s, he asked out a 16-year-old (Miller). And when he was 30 he allegedly assaulted a 16–year-old (Nelson).
Which finally, and most importantly, brings us to Leigh Corfman. Corfman was just 14 years old, two years below Alabama’s age of consent, when she claims she met 32-year-old Moore at the Etowah County, Ala., courthouse, where he was an assistant district attorney. Corfman was then accompanying her mother, who was present on a child custody matter. Moore offered to watch Corfman, obtained her telephone number, and soon thereafter, drove her 30 minutes to his home in the woods and touched her inappropriately while forcing her to do likewise. Two friends told the Washington Post she reported her involvement with Moore at the time.
When Sean Hannity asked Moore on his radio program about dating teenage girls, the best the former judge could muster was that it “would have been out of [my] customary behavior.” More recently, on the campaign trail, he has taken to saying “I do not know any of these women.”
But clearly, he does.
And just one more thing: As noted by Kyle Whitmire for Al.com, in Moore’s book, So Help Me God, he tells the story of meeting his wife at a Christmas party when he was 37 and she was 23. “Many years before, I had attended a dance recital at Gadsden State Junior College. I remembered one of the special dances performed by a young woman whose first and last names began with the letter ‘K.’ It was something I had never forgotten. Could that young woman have been Kayla Kisor?” He said that long afterward he determined she had indeed performed a special dance recital years before at Gadsden. In a radio interview this year, Moore said the recital was about eight years prior to their formal meeting. That means she would then have been either 15 or 16.
Put it all together and it hardly seems unreasonable to believe that when he was 32, he was with a 14-year-old.
Michael Smerconish can be heard weekdays 9 a.m. to noon on SiriusXM’s Potus Channel 124. He hosts “Smerconish” at 9 a.m. Saturdays on CNN. @smerconish