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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Montgomery County judge has rejected former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore’s request to have a defamation lawsuit against him thrown out or moved to Etowah County, where Moore once served as a judge and prosecutor.

The lawsuit was filed by Leigh Corfman, who told the Washington Post in November that 40 years ago Moore had touched her sexually when she was 14 and he was 32.

The lawsuit contends that Moore and his Senate campaign defamed Corfman by calling her a liar and repeatedly denying her claim.

That claim, and those by other women who were in high school at the time they encountered Moore, appeared to have a seismic effect on Moore’s U.S. Senate bid. He became the first Alabama Republican to lose a Senate race to a Democrat in 25 years. Democrat Doug Jones narrowly won the seat in a race that saw heavy turnout by Democratic voters, but Republicans turned out in far fewer numbers than they did, for example, in the 2016 presidential election.

Moore’s attorneys had argued the lawsuit should be dismissed and contend that a candidate has the right to defend themselves against attack during a political campaign.

Moore’s lawyers also asked that the case be moved to Etowah County. Corfman’s attorneys opposed moving the case from Montgomery, arguing Moore’s campaign was based there and that Etowah County was unrelated to the defamation claims.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Shaul also set an April 12 scheduling conference in the case.