Politics

Locals: Roy Moore’s Behavior ‘Not A Big Secret’

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s attraction to teenage girls was “common knowledge” among Gadsden, Ala., locals, according to multiple area residents.

A number of Gadsden townspeople claim Moore, a firebrand social conservative, established a reputation for pursuing teen girls.

“These stories have been going around this town for 30 years,” Blake Usry, who grew up in the area and lives in Gadsden, told AL.com. “Nobody could believe they hadn’t come out yet.”

“It’s not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore,” he said. “That’s why it’s sort of frustrating to watch” the public disbelieve about the women who have come forward.

Four women came forward to accuse Moore of pursuing a relationship with them when they were in their teens and he was more than ten years their elder, a damning Thursday Washington Post reported. One of the accusers said Moore disrobed and groped her when she was 14 and he was 32, the only encounter that would violate Alabama consent law, as the remaining accusers were over the legally required age of 16.

A fifth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, brought new allegations against Moore Monday during a televised press conference attended by high-profile defense attorney Gloria Allred. Nelson alleges Moore assaulted her in his car after offering to give her a ride home from her shift at a diner, soon after her 16th birthday. Now in her 50’s, Nelson gave a tearful recollection of how Moore kissed and groped her before trying to force her head down to his crotch.

Usry’s account corroborates claims, made in the WaPo report, that Moore used to spend time at the local mall, and it was there that he complimented her appearance and later asked her out on a date when she was 16.

“He would go and flirt with all the young girls,” Usry said. “It’d seem like every Friday or Saturday night (you’d see him) walking around the mall, like the kids did.”

Greg Lagat, who owned a business adjacent to the mall, said local police showed him a photo of Moore and said to look out for him and notify them if he showed up.

“I asked him, ‘What did he do?'” Legat said. “He said, ‘If you see him, let me know. I’ll take care of it.'”

AL.com spoke with five other current and former Etowah County residents, all of whom confirmed Moore’s reputed penchant for teen girls. One of the residents, a waitress, claimed Moore frequented the diner she worked in and his behavior frightened the female wait staff.

“He watched us girls quite openly,” said former waitress Victoria Beverstock. “His eyes crawled over our shirts and our backsides. He was so open about it that I would try and handle his order as quickly as possible.”

“When you didn’t smile and flirt back with him, give him an opening, he became rude and demanding,” she said.

Teresa Jones, who claims to have worked as deputy district attorney in Gadsden, claimed his reputation followed him in his professional life.

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