Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama, questioned a law designed to protect victims in cases of rape.
Moore served as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court between 2013 and 2016. During that time, he twice ruled that the rape shield law should not prevent alleged offenders from using evidence about the personal lives of their underage accusers to discredit them, The Guardian reports.
One case concerned David Pittman, who was accused of having raped a 12-year-old girl. Moore argued in September 2015 that Pittman should have been allowed to present evidence suggesting that the girl was sexually active and had a sexually transmitted disease.
"I believe this evidence could be relevant to the complaining witness's alleged motive in accusing Pittman and that it is not barred by … the rape-shield rule," wrote Moore.
In June 2014, Moore wrote an opinion on the case of Sherman Tate, which also referred to the rape shield law. Tate was accused of making two 15-year-old girls at the school where he worked touch him sexually.
Moore contended that attorneys for the defendant should have been allowed to tell jurors that Tate thought the two girls were bisexual and in a relationship. He noted that although the rape shield law prohibits the sexual history of an accuser with other people being discussed, it "does not bar cross-examination regarding a victim’s romantic relationship or even sexual behavior with another complaining victim."
An appeals court had previously referred to Tate's explanation as "at best, speculative."
Moore heard 16 criminal cases involving alleged sexual offenses, and he sided with the offender rather than state prosecutors in 13 cases. In 10 out of those 13 cases, Moore dissented from the court's majority position.
The news comes as pressure is building on Moore to step down from the Senate election race. Two women have accused him of sexually assaulting them while they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s.
Leigh Corfman, the first woman to come forward, accused Moore of assaulting her when she was 14 by touching her inappropriately.
House Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest Republican figure to speak out on the allegations against Moore on Nov. 14.
"He should step aside," Ryan said, according to CNN. "Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside."
Moore has refused to do so. He responded to the allegations made against him by a second woman in a statement that described them as "absolutely false."
Moore has also vowed to sue The Washington Post, the newspaper that first broke the story.