GADSDEN, Ala. ― There were stories told around the courthouse, lawyer gossip about Roy Moore. All word-of-mouth, with nothing ever in writing.
There was small stuff that maybe doesn’t seem as small now. Like the story about Moore supposedly getting thrown out of a Pizitz department store for hanging around the undergarments section. Three people in legal circles said they’d heard that one. This would’ve been in the late 1970s, when Pizitz was still a going concern; a few years later, the Gadsden Mall reportedly banned Moore for chasing teenage girls.
There wasn’t much anyone could do, one longtime criminal defense lawyer in town said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Certainly there was nothing to be done about the alleged Pizitz ejection. “You’ve got to have some sort of written document that says” what happened, the lawyer said. “Everybody kinda knows that. Him getting kicked out was verbal — it was never in writing.”
And of course there were the bigger things, of the kind the rest of the country is learning about now. The defense attorney had heard about Moore’s prowling for teenagers. But in that case, too, nothing could’ve been done, the attorney said.
“Well, for one, you couldn’t do anything to help these girls, unless a girl comes forward,” he said. “If I [as an attorney] wanted to say something in 1980, I would have made him a hero because I could not have proved anything. The only way you can prove what was going on with the girls, is that they have to come forward.”
Everyone knew. That’s been the mantra over the past few weeks. Lifelong residents knew. Mall employees knew. Area reporters knew. And most distressing of all, even the lawyers and law enforcement types working in and around the courthouse — the people responsible for bringing sexual predators to justice — knew.
A retired officer knew that Moore had a thing for young cheerleaders. One of Moore’s own colleagues told CNN it was “common knowledge” he dated high school girls. A Gadsden cop previously told The New York Times: “It was treated like a joke. That’s just the way it was.”
For its part, the Moore campaign has repeatedly denied the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against the judge. His office didn’t immediately return calls for comment on this story.
Moore was untouchable during his time as a prosecutor in Gadsden, from 1977 to 1982. Even if someone wanted to take him…