The allegations against Moore come at a time when prominent men in the entertainment industry, business and politics have been accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct. The wave of accusations was led by reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing accusations of sexual harassment and assault against film executive Harvey Weinstein.
They also presents a dilemma for Republicans trying to keep their majorities in the House and Senate in next year's congressional elections. Moore's presence in the Senate would be sure to become a rallying point for Democrats, who drew heavily on support from women to make surprising gains in off-year balloting in Virginia, New Jersey and several other states on Tuesday.
Moore has little incentive to heed Republican Party leaders' calls to step aside after they shunned him in the primary and didn't embrace him after he won. In Alabama, some of Moore's fellow Republicans were rallying around him. One, state Rep. Ed Henry, said the accusers were prodded by the Democratic Party and may have been paid to make their statements. He even suggested they should be prosecuted, according to a local newspaper, the Cullman Times.
"If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can't be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion," Henry said in an interview, according to the newspaper.
Most of the Republican lawmakers who said Moore should step aside attached the qualifier "if true" to their statements expressing grave concern about the allegations. None defined what standard of proof they would apply in the case.
"I believe if there's any truth to these allegations at all he needs to step out of this race," Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Friday during a Bloomberg TV interview.
In an interview afterward, Toomey said he hasn't seen any evidence that would undermine the credibility of the woman who made the allegation in the Post report.
"If there were evidence that suggested that she was being untruthful then it would raise very serious questions about all the allegations, but in the absence it does sound credible," Toomey said. "It's been consistent, it's been corroborated, so that's the way it looks at the moment."
The Post story had four women by name recounting how Moore, now 70, pursued them when they were in their teens. None of them said Moore forced himself on them. Their stories, according to The Post, were supported by others who knew them at the time.
Three of the women were ages 16, 17 and 18 when Moore asked them out on dates. The 14-year-old, identified by The Post as Leigh Corfman, said Moore initially approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala., when he was an assistant district attorney. He began a conversation and offered to watch the girl while her mother went into the courtroom for a child custody hearing, The Post said.