As a fifth woman came forward today saying that US Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, New Yorker writer Charles Bethea published the first substantiation for widespread rumors that Moore was banned from the Gadsden mall during the early 1980s over repeated attempts to pick up teenage girls.
Those rumors, which are amazingly consistent after so long, have rocketed around Facebook in the days since the Washington Post published allegations from four women that Moore dated as teens when he was in his thirties.
"Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls," Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his blog yesterday. "If Moore keeps lying, that story will soon come out in a big way too."
Bethea, who spoke to "five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees" in following up on these rumors, published the first results of his sleuthing late this afternoon.
[Former Record Bar employee Greg] Legat says that he saw Moore there a few times, even though his understanding then was that he had already been banned. "It started around 1979, I think," Legat said. "I know the ban was still in place when I got there." Legat recalled a Gadsden police officer named J. D. Thomas, now retired, who worked security at the mall. "J. D. was a fixture there, when I was working at the store," Legat said. "He really looked after the kids there. He was a good guy. J. D. told me, 'If you see Roy, let me know. He's banned from the mall.' " Legat recalled Thomas telling him, "If you see Moore here, tell me. I'll take care of him.' " Legat said that his boss, Eddie Hill, also told him to look for Moore.
[…] Jason Nelms, an I.T. worker who grew up in nearby Southside and now lives in Tennessee, regularly visited the Gadsden Mall as a teen-ager, in the early eighties. "It was a joke from one of the managers/assistant managers that they couldn't keep an eye on their theater and an eye on the kids outside," he explained to me via Facebook Messenger. "Us kids would congregate outside on the sidewalk near the theater after the mall closed on Friday and Saturday nights. Anyway, when asked why they had to keep an eye outside, they said that some older guy had been trying to pick up younger girls. They didn't go beyond that but one of the concession workers whispered to us later that it was Roy Moore he was talking about."
[…] these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore's presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. "I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he'd been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off," one officer told me. He also said, "I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone."
According to several sources on Facebook, Moore's stalking behavior toward a member of the Teen Board at a department store precipitated his ban from the mall.
These charges deserve further exploration by journalists. Given the violence of Moore's alleged assault on Beverly Young Nelson, who was sixteen at the time, it is highly probable that Moore has other victims who have been too terrified to come forward.
"I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch," Nelson said in a press conference today.
She continued: "He then looked at me and said, 'You are a child. I am the District Attorney of Etowah County. 'If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.'"
How many teens did Roy Moore assault and threaten in Gadsden? Alabamians deserve to know before they are asked to vote for him.
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