Speed Reads

Roy Moore

Roy Moore's reputed preference for dating teens was apparently an open secret in Gadsden, Alabama

Roy Moore has a point. He has been in public office on and off since being named deputy district attorney in Etowah County in 1977, so why has no political opponent raised questions before about the sexual misconduct allegations roiling his campaign for a Senate seat in Alabama? The women accusing him of pestering, fondling, or assaulting them have an answer for that. "If anybody had asked, we would have told it," Tina Johnson, who says Moore groped her in 1991, tells AL.com. "No one asked."

It's not clear why nobody before The Washington Post bothered asking, because now that reporters are flocking to Gadsden, Alabama, lots of people have stories about Moore chasing teenage girls when he was in his 30s — at the mall, the YMCA, the courthouse, restaurants. For years, the rumors "simmered at a low level," The New York Times reports, "mostly deemed moderately creepy rather than criminal." "Numerous people pulled us over, Democrats and Republicans, to tell us about their claims of things they say they saw or things they heard about Moore's behavior with teenage girls before he got married in 1985," CNN's Gary Tuchman said from Gadsden on Tuesday, but only one of them was willing to go on camera:

"It was common knowledge that Roy Moore dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird," says Teresa Jones, deputy Etowah County district attorney from 1982 to 1985. "We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall." Sue Bell Cobb, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, said she'd heard murmuring of sexual misconduct as early as 2013 and "was disappointed that there had not been more investigative journalism done the last time he ran because I had heard rumors, but I never knew anything firsthand."

"Whatever happens in the election, stories long murmured around Gadsden are now out and have to be reckoned with," the Times says. Moore denies all allegations of sexual impropriety.