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Moore calls sexual-assault allegations ‘ritual defamation’

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In his first sit-down interview since Dec. 4, and his first on local Alabama television since last month, Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore told reporter Bill Britt that the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct were engaged in “ritual defamation” against him.

“I do not know them. I had no encounter with them. I have never molested anyone,” Moore said in an interview filmed at the Alabama Republican Party’s headquarters in suburban Birmingham. “When I saw the pictures on the advertisements of my opponent, I did not recognize any of these people.”

Moore has spoken inconsistently about the allegations against him, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity last month that he may have dated young girls years ago — with parental permission — but that he did not know any of the women who have accused him of making unwanted advances when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. Although Senate Republicans have pledged to hold ethics hearings if Moore wins the election, Moore said a victory for him would end the story.

“I’ve stood up for moral values, so they’re attacking me in that way,” he said. “When this race is over, on the 12th of December, it will be over.”

While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don’t know one another.

As Alabama prepares to vote, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby says state ‘deserves better’ than Moore

As he has said repeatedly in a small number of public appearances since the stories broke last month, Moore suggested in the TV interview that his accusers are part of a smear campaign. He claimed incorrectly that they had participated in attack ads run against him. Several accusers have given TV interviews, but only their photographs have appeared in the spots aired by Democratic nominee Doug Jones.

“It’s inconceivable to think that someone would wait 40 years because they were embarrassed or ashamed or something, and then less than 30 days before the general election, come out and make allegations — and then appear on a political advertisement, when they’ve waited 40 years not to be embarrassed,” Moore said.

Over the rest of the largely friendly interview — Britt joked that no “living” Democrats would help Jones if they came to stump in Alabama — Moore repeatedly said Jones was trying to divert voters from the core issue of judicial appointments.

“I would want judges who recognize that Roe v. Wade, although it has been around since 1973, is not the supreme law of the land because it contradicts the right to life given to us in our founding documents,” he said.

Moore last appeared at a campaign rally Tuesday, when former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon flew in to the Mobile area to stump for him. The Republican nominee’s next public appearance is scheduled for Monday evening, with Bannon making another visit.

Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama speaks to his election-night party in Montgomery after losing the special vote. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)