Huntsville attorney urges sexual assault victims to ‘use your voice’

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Long before the allegations against him took the national stage, U.S. Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore became known in Etowah County's legal and judicial circles. WHNT NEWS 19 spoke with an attorney with ties to his judicial past, who tried cases in his courtroom.

Teri Mastando, a Huntsville attorney, tried cases before Roy Moore when he was a judge in Etowah County. As allegations swirl about his conduct with underage girls, Mastando says she never heard of them before. However, she does have a passion for and makes a living helping people who can be perceived as underdogs. Her recent Facebook post has gotten hundreds of shares and feedback.

"I got thanked a lot," describes Mastando. "That was something that I found so moving and heartening."

In the post, Mastando says Moore should not represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. But more importantly, she opened up about the troubling experience many victims face when they decide to share their truth.

"I wanted to sort of convey the idea to the people I can reach through Facebook, that women who go forward with sexual harassment allegations or sexual assault allegations have a very difficult road ahead of them," explains Mastando. "Women like the women who have come forward in this case, do so knowing that they are going to be called liars."

Mastando says she is disheartened by the culture of disbelief toward victims, but insists that should not deter them from coming forward.

"Don't forget that you have a voice," says Mastando. "You should use your voice. It's what I do. I help others talk, and use your voice, and heal because I think that's sometimes what it takes to heal."

Mastando says she supports people of integrity regardless of their political affiliation. She says she believes that's the issue currently at the heart of the election.