WASHINGTON — Leigh Corfman, one of the first women to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, said Monday she’s relieved she’s finally publicly shared her story about Moore groping her when she was a teenager and he was in his 30s.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted," Corfman told NBC's TODAY Show on Monday in her first television appearance. “But here’s the beauty of what has happened. The support has been amazing. Women and men have come forward to tell their stories ... because of my courageous actions."
Corfman is one of nine women who have publicly accused Moore of sexual misconduct. Corfman was one of four women to tell the Washington Post in a story published earlier this month that Moore pursued a relationship with them in the 1970s and 1980s when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Corfman said she was 14 in 1979 when Moore took her to his home, removed their clothes and guided her hand over his crotch. The age of consent in Alabama, then and now, is 16.
“I was a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adult’s world and he was 32 years old," Corfman said Monday, noting that at the time she had been reading romance novels. “I was expecting candlelight and roses, but what I got was very different."
She said she told some friends, who advised against continuing to meet Moore so when Moore called again she came up with an excuse and didn’t go. Corfman said the incident impacted her life.
“It took some trust away,’’ she said.
She said it took decades before she stopping blaming herself. “I felt guilty,'' she said. "I felt like I was the one that was to blame.’’
Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, is in a competitive race against Democrat Doug Jones for the Senate seat once held by Republican Jeff Sessions. Sessions stepped down to become U.S. Attorney General for President Trump. The election is Dec. 12.
Moore, who has vehemently denied the allegations, has remained defiant, saying he’s not going to step aside and looks forward to serving in the Senate.
“The elitists in Washington don't want Christian conservatives in their club, so they're attempting to overthrow the sovereignty of the people of Alabama," Moore tweeted Sunday.
“One thing I would to like to see happen in our country is unity,’’ he said at a recent press conference in Alabama. “I said I wanted to see unity. I never dreamed that I would succeed even before I got elected. But I have unified Democrats and the Republicans in fighting against me because they don’t want me there.’’
Corfman said her family and family friends knew about the incident. She had even considered confronting Moore, but changed her mind. She also later discussed it with her children.
“We decided together that we shouldn’t do it at that time," she said.
Corfman said he changed her mind after the Washington Post sought her out. “It literally fell in my lap … I had to make a decision,’’ she said.
Corfman denied charges that she was paid to tell her story. If anything, she said, she has lost money, because she’s not working now.
Corfman said she has voted as a Republican for years.
“But this isn’t political for me. This is personal,’’ she said. “It’s very close to my heart and I’ve lived with this for a long time.’’
Corfman said of Moore's claims not to know her, “I wonder how many mes he doesn’t know.’’
A growing number of Republican Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called for Moore to drop his bid for the seat. Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican senator from Alabama, said he doesn’t plan to vote for Moore.
Shelby and McConnell both supported Sen. Luther Strange, who currently holds Sessions' seat, in the GOP primary.
A political action committee aligned with McConnell spent millions to help Strange in the Republican runoff in September. Strange lost to Moore.
“This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and they will not stand for it," Moore said last week. “I want to tell you who needs to step down – that’s Mitch McConnell.’’
Others have come to Moore’s defense. A group of women, led by Moore’s wife, Kayla, held a rally outside the state’s Capitol in Montgomery last week.
“He will not step down," she said.
The White House has called the allegations serious and said Trump thinks the accusers are credible, but he has not called for Moore to step down. Trump initially backed Strange.
“If he did not believe that the women's accusations were credible he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that,” White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said Sunday on ABC's This Week. "He has concerns about the accusations, but he is also concerned that these accusations are 38 years old. Roy Moore has been in public service for decades, and the accusations did not arise until a month before election."