Jury: Democratic PAC defamed Moore and awarded him $8.2 million

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A federal jury awarded Republican Roy Moore $8.2 million in damages on Friday after finding that a Democratic-aligned super PAC defamed him in an ad during the U.S. Senate race. of 2017 in Alabama.

Jurors found the Senate Majority PAC made false and defamatory statements against Moore in the ad that attempted to capitalize on a sexual misconduct charge brought against Moore in the 2017 race. The ruling was a victory for Moore who lost other libel suits, including one against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

“We are so grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to help restore my reputation which was badly damaged by the 2017 election,” Moore said in a phone interview.

The Senate Majority PAC funded a group called Highway 31 which launched a $4 million publicity blitz against Moore.

Moore lost the 2017 race after a woman came forward to the Washington Post and said Moore sexually touched her in 1979 when she was 14 and a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore denied the charge. Other women said Moore dated them or asked them out when they were older teenagers.

The lawsuit centered on a television ad that recounted accusations against Moore in various news articles. Moore’s lawyers argued that the ad, through the juxtaposition of statements, falsely claimed he had solicited sex from young girls at a mall, including another 14-year-old boy who worked as an assistant. of Santa Claus, which had excluded him from the mall. .

The ad at issue in the lawsuit began: “What do people who know Roy Moore say? This followed with the statements “Moore was actually banned from Gadsden Shopping Center… for soliciting sex from young girls” and “Whoever he approached was 14 and working as Santa’s helper”. Both quotes cite various press reports.

Wendy Miller has previously testified that she met Moore when she was 14 and worked as Santa’s helper at the local mall. She testified that Moore asked her out when she was 15 or 16, but her mother wouldn’t give her permission to go.

Moore’s attorneys argued that the juxtaposition of statements in the ad painted Moore in a false light and falsely gave the impression that he was soliciting sex from girls at the mall.

“In their ad, they chained the quotes together to make a single statement. This is what the jury found offensive. They stood up and lied and said they had no intention of doing this said Jeffrey Scott Wittenbrink, an attorney for Moore.

The majority in the Senate PAC had argued that the ad was essentially true. A lawyer said they plan to appeal.

“No deviation or distraction from Roy Moore will change the fact that several people testified under oath to corroborate credible charges against him. Many others have come forward to make their allegations public, at great expense. We do not believe this verdict is the correct decision, but we believe the facts are clear and this decision will be overturned on appeal,” Ben Stafford, a lawyer representing the majority of the Senate PAC, said in a statement sent by mail. electronic.


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