MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A federal jury awarded Republican Roy Moore $8.2 million in damages on Friday after it found that a Democratic-aligned super PAC libeled him in a TV ad recounting accusations of sexual misconduct during his failure in 2017 in the United States Senate in Alabama.
Jurors found that the Senate Majority PAC made false and defamatory statements against Moore in an advertisement that attempted to highlight the charges against Moore. The verdict, returned by a jury after a brief trial in Anniston, Alabama, was a victory for Moore, who lost other libel suits, including one against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
“We are so grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to help restore my reputation which was badly damaged by the 2017 election,” Moore said in a phone interview.
Ben Stafford, an attorney representing the Senate Majority PAC, said in an emailed statement that they believe the decision will be overturned on appeal.
Moore, a former Republican judge known for his hardline stances against same-sex marriage and supporting public displays of the Ten Commandments, lost the 2017 Senate race after his campaign was rocked by misconduct allegations against him. Leigh Corfman told The Washington Post and said Moore sexually touched her in 1979 when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore denied the charge. Other women said Moore dated them or asked them out when they were older teenagers.
The charges against Moore contributed to his loss to Democrat Doug Jones, the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter century. The seat returned to Republican control with the 2020 election of Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach.
The Senate Majority PAC funded a group called Highway 31 which launched a $4 million publicity blitz against Moore.
The lawsuit centered on a television ad that recounted accusations against Moore. Moore’s lawyers argued that the ad, through the juxtaposition of statements, falsely claimed he had solicited sex from young girls at a mall, including another 14-year-old boy who worked as an assistant. of Santa Claus, which had excluded him from the mall. .
The ad began with, “What do people who know Roy Moore say? This followed with the statements “Moore was actually banned from Gadsden Shopping Center… for soliciting sex from young girls” and “Whoever he approached was 14 and working as Santa’s helper”.
Wendy Miller has previously testified that she met Moore when she was 14 and worked as Santa’s helper at the local mall. She testified that Moore told her she was pretty, asked where she went to high school, and offered to buy her a soda. He asked her out two years later, but her mother told her she couldn’t go.
Moore’s attorneys argued that the juxtaposition of statements in the ad painted Moore in a false light and falsely gave the impression that he was soliciting sex from girls at the mall.
“In their ad, they chained the quotes together to make a single statement. This is what the jury found offensive. They stood up and lied and said they had no intention of doing this “said Jeffrey Scott Wittenbrink, Moore’s attorney.
The majority of the Senate PAC had argued that the announcement was essentially true and that there were numerous reports of Moore’s inappropriate behavior at the mall. A lawyer said they plan to appeal.
According to a Senate majority filing on Thursday, a Gadsden police officer who worked as a security guard at the Gadsden Mall in the late 1970s – JD Thomas – said he told Moore not to return at the mall after receiving complaints from store managers that Moore was asking teenage employees out or making them feel uncomfortable. Moore maintained that he was never banned from the mall.
“No deviation or distraction from Roy Moore will change the fact that several people testified under oath to corroborate credible charges against him. the right decision, but we believe the facts are clear and this decision will be overturned on appeal,” Stafford, a majority attorney representing the Senate PAC, said in an emailed statement.