Republican Roy Moore fought back Sunday against allegations that he sexually abused teenage girls when he was in his 30s, saying they were part of a plot to defame him before Alabama's special U.S. Senate election on Tuesday.
"Ritual defamation has been around for a long time, and that's what this is," Moore, 70, told Bill Britt, anchor of "The Voice of Alabama Politics" television show.
Moore denied ever meeting either Leigh Corfman, who says he molested her when she was 14, or Beverly Young Nelson, who says he bruised her in a sexual assault when she was 16.
"I had no encounter with them," he said. "I have never molested anyone."
Moore also denied dating anyone underage, something he previously said he would not dispute.
Contradicting his earlier remarks on the topic, he said he'd never met any of the women who now say he pursued them when they were 16 or 17 years old. The legal age of consent for sex in Alabama is 16.
"It's inconceivable to think that someone would wait 40 years, because they were embarrassed or ashamed or something, and then less than 30 days before the general election, come out and make allegations," he said.
In a Fox News interview last month with Sean Hannity, Moore recalled knowing two of the women who said he pursued them when they were teenagers. He described one of them, Debbie Wesson Gibson, as a friend. She says that Moore asked her on a date when she was 17.
Moore also told Hannity that he didn't recall "dating any girl without the permission of her mother."
Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday's special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.