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Roy Moore, the conservative Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was accused Thursday of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was a 32-year-old prosecutor.
The explosive allegation, in a Washington Post report, comes against one of the GOP's most outspoken Christian conservatives less than five weeks before a special election that Moore is favored to win despite his long history of inflammatory rhetoric.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that if the allegation is true, Moore "must step aside."
Leigh Corfman, now 53 years old, told the Post that Moore first approached her when she was sitting with her mother on a bench outside an Alabama courtroom down the hall from his office.
Moore got her phone number and, days later, took her on a 30-minute drive to his home in the woods, where he kissed her and told her she was pretty, according to Corfman.
On a second visit, he took off her shirt and pants, stripped to his underwear, touched her over her bra and underpants, and guided her hand to touch his crotch, she told the Post.
She said she asked him to take her home, and he did.
Moore, now 70, told the Post in a written statement: “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign."
His campaign also said that if the allegations were true, they would have come up before. This "garbage is the very definition of fake news," the campaign told the Post.
Moore is a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was removed from the bench for defying a federal court order to remove a granite Ten Commandments monument from a judicial building.
He is running against Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election to replace Republican Sen. Luther Strange.
Strange, who was appointed to the Senate seat to replace Jeff Sessions when President Trump named him attorney general, lost a Republican primary to Moore, whose candidacy was promoted by Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.