The latest major national “name” to be pulled into the sexual misconduct tsunami sweeping the nation is Senate candidate Roy Moore. The candidate’s campaign was recently rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades in the past. The allegations alone, made by at least four women, who are all now adults, led to an immediate call for him to be removed from the race.
Those calls were met with allegations of partisanship and dirty politics. The Moore campaign came out swinging, calling the story, as reported in The Washington Post, fake news: “Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake.”
The statement added that Moore has been married for 33 years, has four children and five grandchildren. Those who believe the women said “so what… having a family hasn’t stopped other sexual predators.”
So, yet again, another he-said, she-said about a major American public figure is in the news. Except, in this case, there are four unrelated “shes” saying essentially the same things. The first said Moore, who was 32 at the time, had sexual contact with her when she was only 14 years old. Three other women claimed to have been approached by Moore when they were in their teens. Moore is now 70 years old. He was in his 30s at the time the actions behind the allegations were said to have taken place.
Critics are saying the fact that these events happened nearly 40 years ago, and that Moore has been in public office for decades, proves this is just dirty politics. Meanwhile, others are using Moore’s case as an example of how victims, especially young victims, can feel so intimidated they won’t speak out.
Regardless of which side people believe, Moore is struggling to keep his carefully crafted public persona. The former Alabama Supreme Court Justice made a career out of espousing and publicly supporting hardline Christian positions. He was booted from the bench twice, for disobeying court orders and cajoling state judges to ignore Supreme Court decisions, respectively.
These decisions made Moore a darling of the political right, especially evangelical Conservatives. However, these allegations, if true, could damage him deeply with this very base.
In Moore’s case, he’s stuck in a difficult position. If innocent, how does he prove it? If guilty, how does he maintain his campaign knowing his public persona might not be able to survive an extended false denial? Some public figures in similar situations have just simply stepped out of the public eye to avoid that scenario. But that’s not Moore’s reputation. If he abdicates, many will assume it’s a tacit admission of at least some guilt. Because of this, it looks like this situation will play out, leaving the public to decide who it believes.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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