Molestation Charges Upend Key Senate Race
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Molestation Charges Upend Key Senate Race

  Republicans Scramble to Distance Themselves from Bible-Thumping Roy Moore  

A mess in Alabama. Some Republicans are calling on Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to quit after a Washington Post report about allegations he molested a 14-year-old girl when he was 32—if the charges are true. Moore, 70, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, called the accusation “completely false.” The seat once held by Jeff Sessions had been viewed as a safe Republican seat. Republicans have a two-seat majority in the Senate.

The ballots for the Dec. 12 special election are already printed, and many absentee voters have already submitted theirs. Republicans were scrambling to figure out whether Sen. Luther Strange, who now holds the seat, could run as a write-in candidate against Democrat Doug Jones.

The statute of limitations for prosecuting Moore has long passed. The age of legal consent in Alabama is 16. Under the law in Alabama in 1979 and today, a person who is at least 19 years old who has sexual contact with someone older than 12 and younger than 15 has committed sexual abuse in the second degree. Sexual contact is defined as touching of sexual or intimate parts. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

In Alabama, State Auditor Jim Zeigler referred to the story of Jesus to defend Moore. “Mary was a teenager, and Joseph was an adult carpenter,” Zeigler said. “They became the parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Political allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spent millions to try to stop Moore in the primary while Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, rallied support for Moore. “This is what happens when you let reckless, incompetent idiots like Steve Bannon go out and recruit candidates who have absolutely no business running for U.S. Senate,” said former McConnell aide Josh Holmes.

Bump stocks. Slide Fire Solutions, a major manufacturer of “bump stocks,” plans to resume sales of the device that lets shooters fire semi-automatic rifles nearly as fast as fully-automatic machine guns. Stephen Paddock used similar devices when he killed 58 people in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. Bump stocks work by causing the firearm to bounce rapidly against the shooter’s trigger finger. Slide Fire, which is based in Moran, Texas, lists bump stocks that are currently available, many designed for use with AR-15 rifles, the weapon used by Paddock in Las Vegas and Devin Patrick Kelley in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this week.

Puerto Rico. Army officials say emergency efforts in Puerto Rico are drawing to a close. They’re beginning a drawdown of federal troops. Roads are now largely cleared across the island, many supermarkets and stores have reopened and the military says the emergency is over. About 11,000 troops are on the island now, down from more than 15,000 shortly after the hurricane. About half will leave over the next few weeks as federal troops hand over responsibilities to the National Guard. Over 80% of the island was without power after a major transmission line failed early Thursday. Officials hope to get that number back to about 60% today. Frances Robles, a New York Times reporter in Puerto Rico tweeted that much of San Juan remained dark Thursday night.

 

November 10, 2017