Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Roy Moore and attorneys address allegations made during U.S. Senate campaign, file suit against accusers

ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. - Roy Moore continues to fight those he says conspired against him in the U.S. special Senate election. On Monday, Moore's attorney fired a legal shot directly at his accusers.

Roy Moore says there was an orchestrated political conspiracy against that caused him to lose the election. At a news conference held in Etowah County, his attorney confirmed they have filed a legal complaint in Etowah County. That complaint centers on Richard Hagadorn, Margaret Corfman, Debbie Gibson, Beverly Nelson, and Tina Johnson.

Moore and his legal teams claim that $40 million dollars was spent in an effort to beat him. The conference was held at the Etowah County commission chambers.

Moore says those named in the suit conspired in an attempt to defame him, and his attorneys say they can prove it.

Read the entire lawsuit here: 

Breaking down the lawsuit

Roy and Kayla Moore are plaintiffs in the court filing in which the suit says “Plaintiffs Roy and Kayla Moore were injured, harmed and damaged as follows:

  • Roy and Kayla Moore suffered damage to their reputations;
  • Roy Moore was unsuccessful in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat;
  • Roy and Kayla Moore suffered financial damage in the form of lost wages and opportunities;
  • Roy Moore’s opportunity to run for political office was impaired;
  • Roy and Kayla Moore suffered the loss of their ability to peaceably appear in public places without suffering unwarranted humiliation that was a direct result of defendants’ defamatory attacks on their character.”

Defendants

  • Richard Hagedorn - who is noted in the court filing for making social media posts about Moore--- and is the brother of a Washington Post columnist (and that same brother married his same-sex partner).
  • Leigh Corfman - who has accused Moore of sexual misconduct when she was 14 years old in 1979 and has filed a defamation suit against Moore.  Moore has been actively trying to raise money to fight that lawsuit (Brian Lawson has received those e-mails sent to reporters)
  • Debbie Gibson - appeared in the original Washington Post story on Moore, she said her and Moore dated when she was 17 and he was 34.
  • Moore initially said in the Sean Hannity radio interview, that he previously knew Gibson, but he later changed his story, saying he did not know her, which he repeated again today.
  • Beverly Nelson - who has accused Moore of attacking her in 1977 when she was 16, and throwing her out of a vehicle when she resisted.
  • Tina Johnson – who has accused Moore of groping her in his legal office while she was on a legal business visit there with her mother in 1991.
  • “Fictitious Defendants” – “whose names will be substituted upon learning their true identities,” the filing says.

The Counts

  • Count One - Negligence.
    • In part, the defendants are accused of  “negligently slandering” the Moores.
  • Count Two - Wantoness
    • In part, “Defendants wantonly and recklessly caused defamatory material to be published and disseminated throughout the State of Alabama and the nation using television, social media and other media outlets,” with total disregard for the truth.
  • Count Three - Defamation
    • In part, it notes “Defendants made statements that they knew to be false or in reckless disregard of the truth,” with “intentional, reckless, and or wanton conduct.”
  • Count Four - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
    • “Defendants produced and disseminated defamatory material about Judge Moore … caused emotional distress to Roy Moore and Kayla Moore.”
  • Count Five - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
    • In part, it says, “Defendants…did intentionally utter, produce, and disseminate spoken and written communications to harm the reputation and character of Roy Moore.”
  • Count Six - Outrage
    • In part, “Defendants…intentionally or recklessly engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct that caused emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. “
  • Count Seven - Civil Conspiracy
    • In part, it notes, “Defendants agreed and worked together to achieve the common end of damaging the Plaintiffs’ reputations in Alabama and nationwide and destroying Judge Moore’s prospects for election to the U.S. Senate.”

"This was filed because the people of Alabama deserve to know the truth," said Melissa Isaak, Roy Moore's attorney. She later added, "We intend to show the people of Alabama that a political conspiracy came about to ruin his campaign for Senate and to defame him, defame his character, so the people of Alabama would not vote for him."

Isaak called into question the timing of the accusations against Moore.

"Any allegation that's made, you have to look at the timing and the context. The timing of this alone should raise an eyebrow. 32 days before the election," she noted.

When Moore took to the mic during the press conference about the lawsuit, he said, "You're going to see a political conspiracy. Even the press should be able to see a political conspiracy is what it is. We've got it documented. I'm prepared to go through depositions."

He later added, "I think the complaint will cover the fact that it has been very difficult for our family. It has been very difficult for my wife."

The complaint

Among many accusations in the complaint, it accuses Gibson and Hagedorn separately “revealed their true political agenda to ignore the truth in an effort to discredit “local politicians and Senate candidates.”

The Moore’s contend Leigh Corfman was paid to tell those stories about Roy Moore. Corfman’s “actions were rewarded financially and were attended with such notoriety as to encourage her conduct,” the court filing says.

The suit alleges Hagedorn had a motive against the Moore Senatorial candidacy.  The complaint notes Roy Moore had been previously critical of same-sex marriage, as the complaint notes Hagedorn’s brother is a columnist for the Washington Post, and resides in Washington “with his male partner,” who he married in a ceremony by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  It goes on to say Moore had criticized Judge Ginsburg for performing same-sex marriages.

The suit alleges “On or about October 12, 2017, Hagedorn met "with an agent for the” Washington Post at the Big Chief Restaurant in Glencoe, AL and made statements “which were false and defamatory, knowing that they would harm the character and reputation of Judge Moore. “ In this meeting, the complaint says Hagedorn “not only conveyed false and malicious information to the Post but escorted its reporters for several days in Etowah County and attended meetings with other individuals, including Corfman and Wesson to further the false and malicious attacks on the character and reputation of Judge Moore.”

What they are seeking from the court filing

The Moore’s are asking for a trial by jury and seeking judgment against the defendant’s for “compensatory damages” and punitive damages “in an amount that will adequately reflect the enormity of the Defendants’ wrongful, outrageous acts and which will effectively deter other similar wrongful acts.”

Moore has been sending e-mails to supporters, asking for money to help defend him in the defamation suit filed by Corfman.   Roy Moore spoke to reporters himself today for the first time since the special election in December.  The complaint was filed in Etowah County Court.   Moore has previously lost a bid to move the Corfman case from Birmingham to Etowah County. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Ashley Shaul on March 28 denied the motion without comment filed by Moore's attorneys to move the case.

Reaction 

WHNT News 19 reached out to Gloria Allred, the attorney who represents one of the defendants, Beverly Young Nelson.

In November, Nelson came forward alongside Allred to claim Moore had a sexual interaction with her when she was underage, while he was working in Etowah County. Allred presented a yearbook in which Nelson said Moore had signed with compliments, concluding, ‘-Love Roy Moore.’

Monday, Allred told us, "No comment."

WHNT News 19 received comment from Neil Roman, the attorney who represents Leigh Corfman:

"These latest claims by the Moore camp have no more merit than those he has made before. Leigh Corfman stands by the accuracy of every one of her statements about Mr. Moore's sexual abuse of her when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Ms. Corfman is no longer a teenager and is not going to let Mr. Moore victimize her again."

Corfman told the Washington Post in October that nearly 40 years ago she met Moore while she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Etowah County. She claimed to the Post there were two encounters at his home, one where he kissed her and the second where he partially undressed her and touched her over her underwear and was made to touch him over his underwear.

Corfman sued Moore in January, alleging the repeated denials and claims by that she was lying by Moore and his campaign, defamed her, and cost her wages. Moore filed a counter-claim this month, arguing Corfman was part of a political effort against him and denying her claims.

WHNT News 19 contacted the communications director for Senator Doug Jones (D), who won the election Moore is talking about in the lawsuit. She told us the Senator's office did not plan to release a statement regarding this new lawsuit.

Mark McDaniel, Huntsville attorney, said that truth is a good defense for anyone accused of defamation, on either side.

"Truth is a defense in a defamation case," he stated. "It's not enough just to say it in these lawsuits. Everything he says in the lawsuits, he has to prove."

McDaniel predicts, based on his knowledge of the law for the past 41 years, that some of the claims will be thrown out, particularly those dealing with negligence. But the rest of Moore's complaint, following depositions and discovery, could come before a judge, he predicted.

McDaniel added, "This whole case is going down to, if he gets in front of a jury, it's him getting on the witness stand and those girls getting onto the witness stand. Who is the jury going to believe? That's what this case is going to come down to."

 

McDaniel said the result of this lawsuit will not be to reverse the election, or do any kind of action. Moore is not asking for an injunction; he is asking for damages.

"He's asking for money," explained McDaniel. "In a civil suit, the way you can punish someone through punitive damage is a lot of money."

McDaniel said it is clear by reading the complaint that Moore is angry and feels hurt.

"Judge Moore, I think, is attempting to clear his name," he assessed after reading over the complaint.