Julie Bennett / AP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal jury on Friday awarded $8.2 million in damages to Republican Roy Moore after a Democratic-aligned super PAC recounted sexual misconduct allegations in Alabama during his failed U.S. Senate bid in 2017 on a TV show. He was defamed in the advertisement.
The jurors found that the Senate Majority PAC had made false and defamatory statements against Moore in an advertisement that attempted to expose the allegations against Moore. The verdict, returned by a jury after a brief trial in Aniston, Alabama, was a victory for Moore, who has lost other defamation lawsuits, including one. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen,
“We are very grateful to God for the opportunity to help restore my reputation that was badly damaged by the 2017 election,” Moore said in a telephone interview.
Ben Stafford, an attorney representing the Senate Majority PAC, said in an emailed statement that he believes the decision will be overturned on appeal.
Moore, a former Republican judge known for his staunch stance opposing same-sex marriage and supporting public demonstrations of the Ten Commandments, was elected to the Senate in 2017 after his campaign was shaken by misconduct allegations against him. The race is lost. Leigh Korfman told Washington Post And said Moore had touched her sexually in 1979 when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore denied the allegation. Other women said that Moore dated them, or asked them to date, when they were older teens.
The allegations against Moore contributed to His defeat to Democrat Doug Jones, the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter century. The seat returned to Republican control with the 2020 election of former college football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Senate Majority PACs funded a group called Highway 31 that ran a $4 million advertising campaign against Moore.
The lawsuit centered on a TV commercial that made allegations against Moore. Moore’s lawyers argued the ad through a combination of statements, falsely claiming that he solicited sex with young girls at a shopping mall, including another 14-year-old child who posed as Santa’s assistant. was working in the U.S., and as a result was banned from the mall. ,
The ad began with: “What do people who know Roy Moore say?” This was followed by statements like “Moore was actually banned from Gadsden Mall…
Wendy Miller previously testified that she met Moore when she was 14 and was working as Santa’s assistant at a local mall. She testified that Moore told her she was beautiful, asked her where she went to high school and offered to buy her a soda. He asked her to move out after two years, but her mother told her that she could not go.
Moore’s lawyers argued a combination of statements in the ad portrayed Moore in a false light and falsely appeared to be soliciting sex from girls at the mall.
Jeffrey Scott Wittenbrink, an attorney for Moore, said, “In his ad he cobbled together the quotes to make a single statement. The jury found it offensive. He got up and lied and said that was not his intention.”
The Senate Majority PAC argued that the ad was largely accurate and that there were widespread reports about Moore’s inappropriate behavior at the mall. A lawyer said he planned to appeal.
According to a Thursday court filing from the Senate Majority, a Gadsden police officer who worked as a security at Gadsden Mall in the late 1970s — J.D. Thomas — testified that he told Moore to receive complaints from store managers. After being told not to return to the mall, Moore was asking teen employees or making them uncomfortable. Moore said he was never banned from the mall.
“Any deviation or distraction on the part of Roy Moore will not change the fact that several individuals testified under oath to substantiate the credible allegations against him. Many others go on to make their allegations public at serious personal cost. We don’t think this ruling is the right decision, but we believe the facts are clear and this decision will be reversed on appeal,” Stafford, an attorney representing the Senate Majority PAC, said in an emailed statement. said in.