Roy Moore might have had 11 commandments to carve into his two now famous redwood tablets if one sin were not so vile that scripture must have assumed an implicit “thou shalt not.”
This sin is so vile that the Alabama Penal Code lists it along with the statutory equivalent of “thou shalt not kill” as a crime for which there is no statute of limitations.
The legal term for it is felony sexual abuse of a child, and Moore has been accused of committing a particular variant on a 14-year-old girl named Leigh Corfman in 1979, when he was Etowah County’s first district attorney and solemnly sworn to uphold the law. The applicable statute reads:
Enticing child to enter vehicle, house, etc., for immoral purposes.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person with lascivious intent to entice, allure, persuade, or invite, or attempt to entice, allure, persuade, or invite, any child under 16 years of age to enter any vehicle, room, house, office, or other place for the purpose of proposing to such child the performance of an act of sexual intercourse or an act which constitutes the offense of sodomy or for the purpose of proposing the fondling or feeling of the sexual or genital parts of such child or the breast of such child, or for the purpose of committing an aggravated assault on such child, or for the purpose of proposing that such child fondle or feel the sexual or genital parts of such person.
(b) A violation of this section is a Class C felony.”
As reported by The Washington Post, Corfman says she first encountered Moore in the Etowah County courthouse, when she and her mother were waiting on a hallway bench for a custody hearing. Moore, then 32, reportedly offered to sit with Corfman and spare her the upset of the hearing while the mother went in to court. The mother agreed and Moore reportedly took advantage of his time alone with Corfman to get her phone number.
On two occasions, Moore is said to have arranged to pick up Corfman near her home and drive her to his house a half-hour away. Corfman told The Washington Post that on the second occasion he removed her outergarments, undressed himself, ran his hand over her and placed her hand on his erect penis.
If true, and there is no reason to believe Corfman is telling anything but the truth, this would certainly constitute enticing a child to a house for immoral purposes, specifically for the purpose of proposing that such child feel his genital parts.
Moore could not possibly have thought that it would have been anything but a grievous sin even though it was not explicitly among the Ten Commandments that he carved with such a steady hand into two redwood tablets right around that time.
Maybe he believed that inscribing the tablets qualified him to speak in high moral tones when he stepped down as DA to run for circuit court judge in 1982. One of his ads read:
“If you are tired of a court system controlled by a certain few lawyers where money and political influence control many decisions, elect a man who has stood firmly against favoritism and corruption in public office.”
Moore was a hometown boy and a West Point graduate who had served in Vietnam, but the voters seemed to sense something about him. He lost and for a time he sought solace in the life of a professional kickboxer.
After a year, Moore returned to the law, putting his tablets up on his office wall. He ran for DA in 1985 and lost.
In 1992, an incumbent circuit judge died and what else but political influence got Moore appointed to replace him. Moore credited the Almighty.
“The impossible had happened!” Moore later wrote. “God had given me something that I had not been able to obtain through my own efforts.”
In the same building where he is said to have contrived to get a 14-year-old girl’s phone number with immoral purpose, he now hung those two redwood tablets in his courtroom. He positioned them so they could be seen over his right shoulder when he took the bench.
"I wanted to establish the moral foundation of our law,” he later explained.
Moore also began court sessions with a prayer, which was discomfiting to the lawyers defending two male strippers who performed under the name Satin and Silk, and were charged with violating the Sixth Commandment by talking the life of a drug dealer.
Satin and Silk were nonetheless acquitted, but you cannot assume that the case contributed to Moore’s avowed distaste for gays, for their lawyers had contacted the ACLIU about the prayers and the plaques. The resulting lawsuit triggered a furor that made him a hero.
“My duty is to uphold God’s law,” he declared. “Prayer is our acknowledgement of God.”
When he had to run for the judgeship to which he had been appointed, Moore got 65 percent of the vote. He had actually won an election.
The ACLU lawsuit dragged on, the state of Alabama paying not only for Moore’s lawyers but for his newly hired publicist. He ran for chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001 and won then, too.
But now he shared the ornate courtroom with eight associate justices, and he could hardly just hang his hand-carved plaques on the polished wood paneling. He had the commandments inscribed in a big stone such as Moses might have admired and had it installed outside the Alabama Judicial Building.
A federal judge ordered Moore to remove it. Moore refused and the Alabama Supreme Court ordered Moore himself removed in 2003.
Before he left, Moore founded the Foundation for Moral Law, making his wife, Kayla Moore, the head, and paying himself as much as $180,000 a year. He also weighed in with a 35-page decision on a custody case involving Dawn Huber, a gay mom of three, aged 10, 11, and 12.
Huber alleged in court papers that her now former husband had been abusive to her and the kids, which he denied. She would say of herself at a press conference, “I am the one who helped my children prepare for their first Holy Communions. I am the one the principal at their parochial school asked to serve as secretary of the PTA.”
Two decades before, Moore had reportedly hustled another mom with lascivious intent into leaving him alone with 14-year-old Corfman outside a custody hearing.
He now piously invoked God and the testaments both new and old in ruling against Huber because her sexual orientation supposedly violated the laws of God and Alabama. He began by saying gays have no rights in such matters.
“To disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality. On the contrary, disfavoring practicing homosexuals in custody matters promotes the general welfare of the people of our State in accordance with our law, which is the duty of its public servants.”
He continued on as if he were a paragon of virtue.
“Providing for the common good involves maintaining a public morality through both our criminal and civil codes, based upon the principles that right conscience demands, without encroaching on the jurisdiction of other institutions and the declared rights of individuals.”
He then outdid himself.
“The common law designates homosexuality as an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent.”
If Moore hoped his pronouncements would carry him into high office, he discovered that Moore was still less. He entered the Republican primary for governor in 2006. He lost and tried again, and lost again in 2010.
In 2013, he successfully ran again for chief justice. He was still remembered as the prayerful “Alabama’s Ten Commandments Judge,” and a homophobe in robes.
In the meantime, Huber’s case was one of those cited in the lead-up to the U.S Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right.
Moore ordered the state’s probate judges to continue to observe the Alabama ban. He was suspended and he resigned in April of this year, just in time to run for the U.S Senate seat that Jeff Sessions gave up to become the U.S. attorney general.
Our president endorsed Moore’s opponent, but the combination of prayer, the Ten Commandments and homophobia in defiance of the U.S. Constitution trumped Trump. Moore scored one more victory and vowed he would win the special election in December.
However that goes, Moore remains accused of a felony. One of the many ironies is that some of the same folks on the right who cheered as Anthony Weiner began his prison term this week are now scrambling to explain away Moore’s alleged behavior.
At least Weiner never touched anybody. He texted photos of his junk, but he never put a child’s hand on it.
A variation of what the Trump folks sometimes chant about Hillary Clinton now comes to mind:
“Lock him up!”
Maybe in a prison with a woodworking shop with lots of redwood.
Meanwhile, Huber has gone on to marry a firefighter, and they are marking their first anniversary with a trip to Lake Tahoe this weekend. She told The Daily Beast on Thursday that she had indeed heard of the allegations against Moore.
“The people who protest the loudest usually have something to hide,” she said of Moore.
She noted that a number of other women have come forward to say they too were approached by Moore when they were teens. She also noted that she, like Moore, grew up in the Southern Baptist Church.
“The God he is spewing is not the God I was raised with,” she said. "He ran a campaign of hatred and intolerance.”
She added, “I am so sick of this ‘us versus them’ mentality.”
But she allowed, “This is America, He gets to say what he wants.”
She then said of herself, “I was telling everybody, I don’t want to be the poster child for gay rights. I just want my kids back.”
She said of her kids, “They said, ‘Mom, you’ve got to be our voice. We know the truth.’”
She reported that the kids are now grown and happy.
“I have five grandchildren,” she reported.
As for Huber herself, she enjoys a peace such as Moore is even less likely ever to enjoy now that he is accused of felony sexual abuse of a child, truly in violation of the law of God and humankind, a sin so vile the commandment is implicit.
“My side of the street is clear,” Huber said. “My head hits the pillow at night and I’m good.”