After multiple women accused Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama, of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was in his 30s, a North Carolina woman’s response has taken off on social media.
The #MeAt14 campaign, started by Raleigh lawyer Catherine Lawson, is meant to remind people that 14-year-olds are innocent, vulnerable and unable to consent to sex or sexual contact, NPR has reported.
The allegations against Moore surfaced on Nov. 9 when The Washington Post published a story describing how he allegedly molested one girl and tried to court three others when they were ages 14 to 18.
Three of the women said their interaction with Moore didn’t go beyond kissing, but Leigh Corfman told the Post that her encounters with him went as far as having her clothes removed when she was 14 and he was 32.
Moore has denied that any of the encounters were improper.
The day the Post story was published, Lawson tweeted a picture of herself at 14.
Lawson litigates business and intellectual property cases at the state and federal level for Parker Poe, a law firm that has offices in Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta and four South Carolina cities.
Two days after her original tweet, she explained why she started #MeAt14.
“I shared a picture of me at 14 to illustrate there is no acceptable version of (Moore’s) story,” Lawson said in an interview with The News & Observer. “Teenagers can’t consent to a relationship with a grown man, ever.”
Others have joined the conversation by sharing photos and stories of their lives when they were teens.
“I hoped people would share their pictures, but many went on to show powerful vulnerability,” Lawson said. “I’ve been incredibly moved by stories of innocence and of exploitation that remind us every child deserves a community that protects them.”
Actress Alyssa Milano, who started the #MeToo movement on Twitter after sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein were reported, and a co-creator of “The Daily Show,” Lizz Winstead, both tweeted photos of themselves at 14 using the hashtag.
Moore and his supporters have dismissed the allegations as a political move to influence his campaign for the Senate, and others have downplayed the allegations as “much ado about very little,” Vox has reported.
“More disturbing than the well-sourced report about Moore were the number of people willing to justify his behavior,” Lawson said.
Alabama’s Republican secretary of state, John Merrill, questioned the timing of The Post’s report.
“It’s odd to me that this information has just been introduced,” Merrill told the Huffington Post. “In all the campaigns Judge Moore has ever run before ― and he has run a lot of them, probably a dozen campaigns. It’s very, very odd to me this information has just been introduced.”
Lawson, who says she identifies with the Republican Party, responded: “We need to affirm there are lines we won’t cross in the name of party labels.”