[guest post by Dana]
In light of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, I wanted to point something out. One of the arguments being made to cast doubt upon Moore’s accuser, specifically Leigh Corfdon, is the same argument that has been repeatedly used with regard to women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein. The line goes something like this: Why did she wait so long to come forward? The inference often being that if something really happened, accusers would have come forward when it happened. Another assumption is, they waited because nothing really happened, thus are lying. Or, they waited because they got paid to keep quiet (therefore any accusations are moot). And then there’s the belief that they waited just so they could cash in at just the right time. Some even believe that they waited until someone else came forward, providing them with a popular victim bandwagon to jump onto. And unique to the Moore case, they waited for an optimal moment to influence an election outcome because this is nothing more than a political hit job. For the sake of this post, I am going to focus on Moore’s particular situation.
As you are aware, the Washington Post reported that in 1979, Roy Moore, then a 32-year old assistant district attorney, met 14-year old Leigh Corfman in front of an Etowah County courthouse in Alabama:
Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he Inflatable football helmet tunnel took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
In discussing why she waited so long to tell her story, the now 53-year old Corfman, who is a Republican and voted for Donald Trump, explained:
She says she thought of confronting Moore personally for years, and almost came forward publicly during his first campaign for state Supreme Court in 2000, but decided against it. Her two children were still in school then and she worried about how it would affect them. She also was concerned that her background — three divorces and a messy financial history — might undermine her credibility.
“There is no one here that doesn’t know that I’m not an angel,” Corfman says, referring to her home town of Gadsden.
“I have prayed over this,” Corfman says, explaining why she decided to tell her story now. “All I know is that I can’t sit back and let this continue, let him continue without the mask being removed.”
Sadly, in the age of the internet, Corfman’s concerns are proving to be well founded. She is being maligned in the blogosphere by random people who are using her financial difficulties and poor life choices as evidence that she is not to be trusted (I’m not going to link them). This in spite of Corfman already admitting that these factors kept her from coming forward sooner. Further, she also explained that she considered telling her story at various times during Moore’s career but because of how it might impact her children, she chose not to. I can understand Corfman’s reluctance to come forward. It’s no small thing to see one’s life publicly turned inside out and upside down, as well as face the condemnation and notoriety that would surely come with such allegations. Frankly, it’s easy to see why any woman with a similar story involving a public figure would choose to remain silent. But one thing we haven’t seen yet in the recent onslaught of sexual misconduct accusations in Hollywood and elsewhere, are intimidation tactics being used by…an elected official. Until now.
Alabama State Rep. Ed Henry (R) has not only publicly defended Roy Moore, saying that he believes the Washington Post story is a political hit job, but he has also suggested that legal action should be considered against Moore’s accusers because he doesn’t find their story believable:
If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion.
Rep. Henry doesn’t specify any actual legal statute broken. Instead, the state official has simply decided that these women are guilty in their silence, and must pay. This is not coming from you or me, or any Joe Blow on the internet. This is coming from an elected official. I don’t know if this legally constitutes an abuse of power by Rep. Henry per se, but at the very least, it appears to be an intimidating statement, as well as a warning to others who might have their own stories involving Moore. And it is being made by an individual who is well aware of the fact that what he says publicly carries more weight and power than those not holding public office. If Corfman was already afraid of coming forward for the reasons cited above, how much more now that a politician holding office has publicly decided that she (and the others) should be prosecuted? For some people, perhaps those educated and with a more sophisticated knowledge of the world around them, they would simply shake their heads in disgust and dismiss this self-righteous blowhard. But for others, perhaps those less savvy and without broad experiences, they easily might react to his intimidation by keeping quiet and never sharing their own stories for fear of being threatened with prosecution. In the corrupt world of politics and obscene party loyalty, it really isn’t cynical at all to believe that fear is precisely the reaction that Rep. Henry hoped for with his comments.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)