Hours after a tearful Alabama woman accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her nearly 40 years ago, the former judge gathered with supporters at a volunteer fire department near his home in northeastern Alabama to label the allegations "absolutely false."
By his side, as always, was his wife of 32 years, Kayla Moore. But this time, she spoke up.
"He has never one time lifted a finger to me. He is the most gentle, most kind man that I have ever known in my life. He's godly. He's loving — and everybody in this community knows it," Kayla Moore, 56, said, looking around at the people gathered that night. "These are our church members, these are our family, these are our friends, these are people that know him just like I do."
Over the past week, as several women have come forward to publicly accuse Roy Moore, 70, of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, Kayla Moore has become her husband's most visible and aggressive defender. In addition to her defense on Monday night, she has used Facebook to question the credibility of her husband's accusers, threaten lawsuits and spread information that sometimes turns out to be false.
This is a new role for Moore, who until now has been happy to yield the national stage to her husband, a former Alabama Supreme Court judge who was removed from the court twice, first for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from courthouse grounds and then for encouraging state probate judges to disregard the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage.
"She rarely injects herself into the political fray," said Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel who represented Moore in an ethics trial when he was most recently suspended from the court. "Her demeanor is more supportive than vocal."
Staver and others who know the Moores well say the accusations against the former judge don't match the man they have known for decades. As a growing number of prominent Republicans have called for him to drop out of the race in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct, defending Moore has fallen chiefly to those closest to him — especially his wife.
Friends describe Kayla Moore as a deeply religious wife, mother and grandmother who has devoted her life to her family and gushes lovingly about her four children and five grandchildren. She served on the board of her husband's Foundation for Moral Law, which he founded to promote Christian values, and then took over the nonprofit as president in January 2013, when Roy Moore was elected to a second term on the state Supreme Court.
For years, Moore has helped coordinate her husband's political campaigns. In his race for the Senate this year, the two have traveled nearly everywhere together — with him often at the wheel as she navigates.
"During these stressful times . . . she remains steadfast and passionate," said Jessie Deem, who is Kayla Moore's executive assistant at the Foundation for Moral Law, "and she's very strong in her faith, and she never wavers from that."
Kayla Moore did not respond to a request for an interview sent through a campaign spokesman. She has forcefully pushed back against the scrutiny her husband has faced during this campaign.
Upon learning that Washington Post reporters were contacting people she knows for this article, Moore on Wednesday posted one of the reporters' personal cellphone numbers on her Facebook page, and a commenter posted a copy of that reporter's résumé, which included her home address. Later in the day, Moore posted a link to the campaign website where people can now report any interaction they have with a reporter.
"In the past month our hometown, county, and state have been invaded by the Washington Post and liberal media," Moore wrote. "We have had numerous reports of phone calls, cellphone calls, Messages, emails, even to the point of them showing up at peoples houses . . . It's called a witch hunt. We are filing suit."
In an extensive report published last week, The Post detailed allegations that Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl nearly four decades ago when he was in his early 30s and pursued three other girls around the same time who were between the ages of 16 and 18.
None of the women sought out The Post. 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 the 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.
The Moores met at a church Christmas party in December 1984 in Alabama's Etowah County, where they both grew up and lived. He was 37 and worked at a local law firm. She was then known as Kayla Kisor, a 23-year-old former beauty pageant contestant with a 1-year-old daughter who had just separated from her husband, Chuck Heald, who died in 2002.
At the party, Roy Moore read aloud a holiday poem he had written but was distracted by Kisor, who attended with her mother. He recognized her and wondered if she was the same woman he had watched dance in a recital at Gadsden State Junior College years earlier.
"It was something I had never forgotten," Moore wrote in his 2005 autobiography "So Help Me God." "Anxious to meet her, I began with the line, 'Haven't we met somewhere before?' 'I don't think so,' she replied."
Kisor was not interested in a relationship at that point, Moore wrote, but they met again early the next year when she visited the law firm where he worked.
"I was the only attorney available," Moore wrote. "And I was very available! We began to date soon after that."
Kisor filed for divorce on Dec. 28, 1984, according to court records, and her divorce was finalized on April 19, 1985. The Moores married on Dec. 14, 1985.
Roy Moore loves telling the story of how he proposed, said Allen Mendenhall, who worked as Moore's staff attorney at the state Supreme Court and is now the associate dean of the Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.
"He was bashful about popping the question, and said, 'Well, would ya?' " Mendenhall said in an email. "'Would I what?' she asked, forcing him to formulate the operative words. 'You know,' he said, 'marry me.' "
The newlyweds lived in the partially finished home that Moore was building — which for the first few years of their marriage did not have a kitchen, forcing Kayla Moore to cook on an electric plate in the washroom, Moore wrote in his book.
"Kayla did a remarkable job transforming my cold, uninviting house into a warm, comfortable home," Moore wrote.
The Moores had their first child, Roy "Ory" Moore, in July 1987 — followed by Caleb in 1990 and Micah in 1993. In 1992, Roy Moore was appointed as a circuit court judge, and in 1994, he won an election to keep the position. In 2000, he was elected to the state Supreme Court for the first time. He was removed in 2003. In 2012, he was elected a second time and then was removed in 2016. Along the way, Kayla Moore was always by his side.
"We do everything together," Kayla Moore said in an interview with Breitbart News this month. "It was just me and him. . . . We were always together. Always together."
As the president of the foundation, Kayla Moore became more politically active on her own. In February 2016, she endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in the GOP presidential primaries because of his stances on small government, abortion and marriage. She has also given speeches defending her husband's actions on the court, opposing same-sex marriage and calling for legislation that will block transgender individuals from using the bathroom of their choice.
In April 2017, Roy Moore stood on the steps of the state capitol and announced he would run for the Senate seat Jeff Sessions vacated to become President Trump's attorney general. Kayla Moore stood to his right, holding a bouquet of red roses. In a brief speech, he acknowledged that campaigning and moving to Washington is "hard, you know, on your spouse." Moore and his wife have repeatedly questioned why the media are scrutinizing him and why damaging reports are coming out so soon before the special election on Dec. 12.
On Facebook, she has attacked Gloria Allred, the prominent women's rights lawyer who is representing Beverly Young Nelson, who accused Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her in the late 1970s behind the restaurant where she was a waitress, the Old Hickory House, when she was 16. Kayla Moore posted a photo of Allred holding a sign that reads "I support transgender equality" and then wrote: "Gloria Allred; what it's really about!"
And Moore has posted articles — often from little-known blogs with names like "Activist Mommy" and "USA News Magazine" — that aim to refute some of the details from the accusers' statements, often with unsubstantiated and flimsy evidence.
Each time Moore posts, she receives a wave of positive messages, promises of prayers and other tidbits of unconfirmed information.
"These things are false, and it's ugly," Moore said at the end of her brief comments at the firehouse on Monday evening. "It's the ugliest politics that I've ever been in, in my life."
Alice Crites and Michael Scherer contributed to this report.