On 13 November 2017, The New Yorker reported, based on interviews with multiple local sources, that Alabama Senate candidate and twice-removed state Supreme Court judge Roy Moore had been banned from the mall in Gadsden, Alabama because of his predatory behavior toward young girls.
The report, however, is based on sources recalling a rumor, in some cases. Those rumors have been corroborated by news reports of accusations leveled at Moore by at least nine women who were in their teens and twenties at the time.
Mall officials told us they are not in possession of records that would identify who was banned in the late 1970s and 1980s. A Gadsden Mall spokeswoman told us:
We don’t have any records that date back that far.
When we called mall security, the worker who answered the phone told us the same thing.
The mall, which opened in 1974, has come under the management of CBL Properties in recent years. In the 1980s, it had been the popular spot for youngsters, according to the New Yorker. Teens would often meet and socialize there without their parents. Per New Yorker reporter Charles Bethea:
This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.) Several of them asked that I leave their names out of this piece. The stories that they say they’ve heard for years have been swirling online in the days since the Post published its report. “Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday, declining to divulge sources
Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”
[Former mall worker Greg] Legat says that he saw Moore there a few times, even though his understanding then was that he had already been banned. “It started around 1979, I think,” Legat said. “I know the ban was still in place when I got there.” Legat recalled a Gadsden police officer named J. D. Thomas, now retired, who worked security at the mall. “J. D. was a fixture there, when I was working at the store,” Legat said. “He really looked after the kids there. He was a good guy. J. D. told me, ‘If you see Roy, let me know. He’s banned from the mall.’ ” Legat recalled Thomas telling him, “If you see Moore here, tell me. I’ll take care of him.’ ”
Moore has denied the allegations against him and his supporters have been quick to try and discredit them. On 16 November 2017, Breitbart.com, a right-wing media outlet that sent two writers to Alabama in a rather anti-climactic attempt to find holes in the accusers’ allegations, regurgitated a local news story that reported now-86-year-old Barnes Boyle, the mall’s manager in the 1980s, denied Moore was banned. But a former mall worker, Becky Gray, told ABC News she believes she got Moore banned by complaining to her manager about his “creepy” advances toward her.
The story in The New Yorker seems to track with the accounts of women quoted in the 9 November 2017 Washington Post report, which originally broke the story. Two of the women, Wendy Miller and Gloria Thacker Deason, aged 14 and 18 respectively at the time, said they originally met Moore at the mall — Miller when she was working there as a Santa’s helper, and Deason when she worked at a jewelry counter there.
Per the Post, the mall was a place where Moore was often seen alone:
According to colleagues and others who knew him at the time, Moore was rarely seen socializing outside work. He spent one season coaching the Gallant Girls, a softball team that his teenage sister had joined, said several women who played on the team. He spent time working out at the Gadsden YMCA, according to people who encountered him there. And he often walked, usually alone, around the newly opened Gadsden Mall — 6 feet tall and well-dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt, say several women who worked there at the time.
Bethea, Charles. “Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall.”
The New Yorker. 13 November 2017.
McCrummen, Stephanie, et al. “Woman Says Roy Moore Initiated Sexual Encounter When She Was 14, He Was 32.”
The Washington Post. 9 November 2017.
WBRC-TV. “Former Gadsden Mall Manager Says Roy Moore Wasn’t Banned.”
14 November 2017.
Francescan, Chris. “Roy Moore Accuser: I Got Him Banned from the Mall.”
ABC News. 16 November 2017.
Blinder, Alan. “4 More Women Accuse Roy Moore of Misconduct.”
The New York Times. 15 November 2017.