Several locals of Etowah County, Alabama, have said Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, was known to pursue teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s at the local mall.
Five women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct, with one alleging he molested her when she was 14 years old. He has denied the allegations.
Moore is the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and also served as the assistant district attorney of Etowah County, The Atlantic notes. He is campaigning against Democrat candidate Doug Jones to win the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
On Nov. 9, Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore sexually assaulted her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32. Wendy Miller, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Thacker Deason alleged that Moore had pursued them for dates or purchased alcohol for them when they were teenagers and not of drinking age, The Washington Post reports.
On Nov. 13, Beverly Young Nelson alleged that Moore had sexually assaulted her after offering her a ride home from her work in 1977 when she was 16, according to The Atlantic.
"He told me, he said, 'You're just a child,'" Nelson said during a tearful press conference.
Moore reportedly said to her: "I am the district attorney of Etowah County and if you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you."
During a press conference, Nelson presented her high school yearbook from the year of the alleged incident, which included an inscription from Moore with his signature.
Moore has denied the allegations and asserted during a press conference that he never met Nelson.
"I never did what she said I did," Moore said during a Nov. 13 press conference, according to Politico. "I don't know anything about her."
Several locals have stated that Moore was known to visit the Gadsden Mall, which opened in 1974 in Etowah County, to pursue teenagers.
"He would go and flirt with all the young girls," Blake Usry, a traveling nurse who grew up in Gadsden, told Alabama Media Group. "It'd seem like every Friday or Saturday night [you'd see him] walking around the mall, like the kids did."
Usry added that he was not surprised to hear about the allegations against Moore.
"These stories have been going around this town for 30 years," Usry said. "Nobody could believe they hadn't come out yet ... It's not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore."
"[Moore] liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school," said Sheryl Porter.
Porter added: "Even people at the courthouse know it was a well-known secret. ... It's just sad how these girls [who accused Moore] are getting hammered and called liars, especially Leigh [Corfman]."
"As a Deputy DA in Gadsden when Roy Moore was there, it was common knowledge about Roy's propensity for teenage girls," tweeted out Teresa Jones, who had worked for the Etowah County District Attorney's Office. "I'm appalled that these women are being skewered for the truth."
Several Gadsden residents alleged that the Gadsden Mall banned Moore.
"It started around 1979, I think," Gadsden resident Greg Legat told The New Yorker. "I know the ban was still in place when I got there."
Legat added that former Gadsden police officer J.D. Thomas, who was a security guard at the mall, told him: "If you see Roy, let me know. He's banned from the mall. ... I'll take care of him."
It has not been confirmed whether Moore had been banned from the Gadsden Mall for making teenagers uncomfortable.
"We still have an active ban list," said a Gadsden Mall security guard who requested anonymity. "But it doesn't go back that far."
On Nov. 14, a Politico/Morning Consult national poll found that 60 percent of voters said Moore should drop out of the Senate race in light of the allegations. Meanwhile, 16 percent wanted the GOP candidate to continue campaigning and 24 percent were undecided.