Fox News host Sean Hannity has called on Republican candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to explain inconsistencies in his denials of several sexual assault allegations. Hannity, who had previously been sympathetic to Moore, said the U.S. Senate hopeful should drop out of the race if he is unable to adequately rebut the allegations.
Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is campaigning against Democrat candidate Doug Jones for Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. The GOP candidate has become embattled by numerous sexual misconduct allegations.
On Nov. 9, Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore molested her when she was 14 years old and he was 32 years old in 1979. Three other women said he had romantically pursued or purchased alcohol for them when they were between 16 and 18 during the same timeframe. Thirty other people corroborated their accounts, The Washington Post reports.
Moore, 70, denied the allegations, describing Corfman's story as "a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and The Washington Post on this campaign."
Hannity asserted on his television program that Moore was being unfairly maligned. On Nov. 10, the Fox News host interviewed Moore about the allegations on his radio show.
Moore denied ever knowing Corfman, but said he had possibly dated the other three women when they were teenagers.
"You understand this was 40 years ago," Moore told Hannity, according to Fox News. "And after my return from the military, I dated a lot of young ladies."
Hannity's defense of Moore drew controversy and resulted in his television program losing several advertisers. Keurig, Nature's Bounty, Realtor.com, Reddi Wip and Volvo Car USA announced they would cut ties with the television host. This triggered a backlash from Hannity's supporters, with several of his fans filming themselves destroying Keurig coffee makers in protest, according to The New York Times.
On Nov. 13, Beverly Young Nelson alleged during a press conference that Moore had sexually assaulted her in 1977 when she was 16 years old. Nelson said Moore, who was the district attorney of Etowah County, Alabama, at the time, offered her a ride home and subsequently forced himself on her in his car, according to Politico.
Nelson's attorney, Gloria Allred, presented Nelson's high school yearbook from 1977, which included an inscription by Moore. The GOP candidate denied ever knowing Nelson.
On Nov. 14, Hannity announced on his show that he had become skeptical of Moore's denials.
"Here's where I am tonight," Hannity said. "Between this interview that I did and the inconsistent answers; between him saying, 'I never knew this girl,' and then that yearbook comes out -- for me, the judge has 24 hours," Hannity said.
Hannity urged Moore to "immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for [his] inconsistencies."
"You must remove any doubt," he added.
"If he can't do this, Judge Moore needs to get out of this race," the television host concluded.