Roy Moore, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was reportedly banned from his hometown mall in Gadsden, AL, for incessantly harassing teenage girls when he was adult, according to The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea.
A dozen people, nearly half of whom were “members of the local legal community,” told Bethea that Moore’s predatory behavior landed him on a list of people banned from Gadsden Mall. By all of their accounts, anonymous and on the record, it seems as though Moore’s pedophilic affinity for teenagers was never an open secret, it was common knowledge (as one of Moore’s former colleagues, Teresa Jones, told CNN last week).
Here’s how a current Gadsden police officer recalled Moore’s ban, which allegedly began in 1979:
“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.”
And another police officer’s account:
“The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said.
Jason Nelms, who grew up near Gadsden, AL, and regularly visited its mall, told The New Yorker that Moore’s predation was well-known amongst mall managers:
“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.”
Two of the now five women who have accused Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers told The Washington Post that their first interactions with him were at the Gadsden Mall. On Sunday, local Alabama reporter Glynn Wilson wrote on his blog that Moore had been banned from both the Gadsden Mall and the Gadsden YMCA “for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls.”
Meanwhile Moore has maintained his innocence. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Moore addressed Beverly Young Nelson’s allegations that he groped her and attempted to force her head into his crotch when she was 16. “I can tell you without hesitation, this is absolutely false,” Moore said. “I never did what she said I did. I don’t even know this woman.”
But proving he didn’t know Nelson might be a little difficult for Moore, since he left a paper trail in her yearbook. “Love, Roy Moore D.A.,” reads a signed note in Nelson’s 1977 yearbook, which held up during a press conference on Monday.