A new report from The New Yorker lends further credence to the claim that Roy Moore's inappropriate conduct was an "open secret" in Alabama.
Reporter Charles Bethea paid a visit to Moore's hometown of Gadsden, Alabama and spoke to employees at the Gadsden Mall. Two of Moore's accusers say they met him at this very location, and Bethea reports that he was told by multiple individuals that they'd heard he was "banned" from the shopping center due to his repeated harassment of teenage girls.
Bethea spoke to Greg Legat, who worked at the mall from 1981 through 1985. Legat told Bethea that he saw Moore there from time to time, although he believed the then-D.A. had already been banned.
"It started around 1979, I think," Legat told The New Yorker. "I know the ban was still in place when I got there." He added that a security guard and his own boss told him to be on the lookout for Moore and inform them if he spotted Moore on the premises.
Legat isn't the first local to call out Moore's alleged behavior at the mall. Blake Usry told AL.com that, as a teenager, he frequently spotted Moore there. "He would go and flirt with all the young girls," he told the outlet. "It'd seem like every Friday or Saturday night [you'd see him] walking around the mall, like the kids did." Jason Nelms, who also frequented the shopping center as a teenager, told AL.com that a concession worker at Gadsden Mall told him that employees kept an eye on Moore due to his reputation for making advances on young girls.
On Sunday, Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote an article detailing similar allegations: "Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls," he wrote in The New American Journal.
Although everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, Moore is yet another example of a man who had a well-known reputation for being creepy at best and a criminal at worst. It's become increasingly clear that "open secrets," whether they're in Hollywood or our own backyard, have resulted in the unnecessary suffering and victimization of countless women and men.
If there's one lesson to be learned from 2017, I hope it's that "looking the other way" is no longer an acceptable excuse for complacency. To do so is a glaring display of our own privilege and it leaves victims standing alone, feeling as though there's no one who even cares to stand up and fight for them.