Mitt Romney was the first prominent Republican in Utah to say he believed the woman who said Roy Moore tried to have sex with her when she was 14. Moore denies the allegation, but now other high profile Republicans are calling for him to quit the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
While that’s played out in the national media, another Utahn is leading the woman’s defense on social media: Jacquelyn Orton.
Orton says Leigh Corfman, a high-school friend, was part of her tight-knit social circle back in Gadsden, Alabama. Orton calls her friend “a straight shooter.”
“I'm putting my name, my reputation behind Leigh Corfman,” says the onetime congressional spouse, “because I know she's telling the truth.”
In 2009, when Democratic Congressman Bill Orton died in an ATV accident, Corfman reached out to her old friend. Last week, it was Orton returning the favor. Corfman landed in the middle of a national political firestorm after she told the Washington Post what happened when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old prosecutor: He’d taken her to his home, undressed her and undressed himself.
Thank you, @rjlaya . Last night, Leigh explained to me that none of the victims went to the @washingtonpost. Perception is they were silent for 40 years, but each had mentioned it to a few people, one of whom told a reporter. Impeccably sourced, indeed. #Pulitzer #IBelieveLeigh https://t.co/PMdSytnXz2
— Jacquelyn Orton (@ortonforhouse) November 11, 2017
Orton says Moore’s allies are openly trying to discredit Corfman.
“Leigh didn't do this for political purposes, because she's a conservative,” she says. “She didn't go to the press. She didn't ask for this. The press came to her and said: ‘We know what happened. It's time to tell your story.’ And she decided that it was time indeed to tell her story.”
Orton has been using her Facebook and Twitter accounts to defend Corfman, while also campaigning for the Utah State Legislature. She’s running as a Democrat. But what happened to her friend and other sexual assault survivors -- Orton says it has nothing to do with partisan politics.
“It is a societal ill,” she says. “It breaks through gender lines, racial lines, every demographic. We need to realize it's in our homes, our churches, our schools, our communities, our boardrooms. It's everywhere.”
Corfman’s accounts have been corroborated by other women, including two, says Orton, from the high-school group. And on Monday, another accuser from Gadsden said Moore had assaulted her when she was 16.
Leigh Coffman, #RoyMoore's accuser, has been my friend for almost 40 years. She is honest, trustworthy and mostly apolitical/leaning Conservative I have spoken to her tonight and heard her painful story. I believe her. You should, too. #StartByBelieving #StayStrongLeigh #Shero
— Jacquelyn Orton (@ortonforhouse) November 10, 2017
KUER contacted Moore's press office for comment but received no response.