Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has said the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore would be disqualifying if proven true. Four women have alleged that Moore made sexual advances towards them of sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. Moore has denied the accusations.
On Nov. 9, Alabama resident Leigh Corfman came forward to allege that Moore had sexually touched her when she was 14 years old. Corfman told The Washington Post that in 1979, Moore kissed her during a visit to his house and guided her hand to touch his genitals during a subsequent visit, CNN reports. Moore would have been 32 years old during the alleged encounters.
Wendy Miller alleged that Moore asked her on dates when she was 16 years old. Debbie Wesson Gibson alleged that Moore had kissed her during several dates when she was 17 years old and purchased alcohol for her. Thirty people corroborated the four women's allegations to The Washington Post.
Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is competing against Democratic candidate Doug Jones for a U.S. Senate seat in the upcoming Alabama special election. The GOP candidate released a statement denying the allegations.
"These allegations are completely false and are a desperate attack by the national Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign," Moore said.
Merrill, who is a Republican, stated during an interview that Moore would not be fit for the Senate if the allegations were proven true.
"I think most of the people in the state of Alabama would be very disappointed if someone that had been alleged to have engaged in that type of activity, had been proven that they had engaged in that activity, was continuing to represent them in any formal capacity," Merrill told CNN.
When interviewer Erin Burnett asked Merrill if he believed the allegations against Moore were disqualifying, the secretary of state responded "Yes, ma'am."
Merrill added that Moore could not be removed from the election ballot but that his party affiliation could be stripped if the Alabama Republican Party made a request.
"If they do we will adhere to their request and will honor their request as we should by law," Merrill said.
Senate Republicans have called for Moore to step down from the race following the allegations.
"The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying," said GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona in a statement. "He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of."
The Alabama GOP has voiced support for Moore. Republican national committeeman Paul Reynolds of Alabama asserted that the allegations against Moore were fabricated.
"My gosh, it's The Washington Post," Reynolds told The Hill. "If I've got a choice of putting my welfare in the hands of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time."
Meanwhile, Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler stated during an interview that the allegations against Moore were not disqualifying even if they were proven accurate, citing the Bible.
"Nothing immoral or illegal here. ... Take Joseph and Mary," Ziegler told the Washington Examiner. "Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."
On Nov. 10, former GOP Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement on social media calling on Moore to bow out of the Senate race.
"Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," Romney tweeted. "I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside."