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Did Roy Moore sexually assault teenage girls?

Roy Moore is a former Alabama state judge who is running in a special election to fill the U.S. senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. On November 9, 2017, the Washington Post published a report in which four women claimed that while they were teenagers Moore, who was in his 30s, behaved sexually inappropriately towards them. Moore's campaign denied the allegations calling it "fake news."

Shortly after the allegations were made, Moore was interviewed by Sean Hannity. Here is a portion of the interview.

Hannity: Would it be unusual for you as a 32-year-old guy to have dated a woman as young as 17, that would be a 15-year difference, or a girl 18, do you remember dating girls that young at that time?

Moore: Not generally, no.

Hannity makes the classic journalistic mistake of asking a compound question; "Would it be unusual for you as a 32-year-old guy to have dated a woman as young as 17?" "Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?" Compound questions make it easy for the person to get away with not answering one of the questions. When asked a compound question, the person will usually answer the last question asked of him. It appears that is what Moore did.

When asked, "Do you remember dating girls that young at that time?" Moore answered "Not generally, no." Answering "No" would have been the best answer. (The shortest sentence is the best sentence.) Saying, "Not generally" means there is an uncertainty. It is like saying, "Not always." This means there is a chance Moore did date young girls.

There is a chance Moore gave two answers and did answer both questions. That would mean he answered the question, "Would it be unusual for you as a 32-year-old guy to have dated a woman as young as 17?" by saying, "Not generally." This means that it would generally not be unusual.

Hannity: If any Senate candidate who was 32 at the time had done this to a 14-year-old girl, to me it's disgusting. To me, it would be despicable. To me, that is a predator. Would you agree with me, no such person whoever does that should ever be in the United States Senate?

Moore: Of course.

When people use the phrase, "of course" they want you to take for granted what they are saying is true. However, we take nothing for granted. The best answer is to say "Yes." Moore does not state with certainty that he believes such a person should not be in the U.S. Senate.

Hannity: Let's go back to one more question, because I didn't understand this. If you are 32, and you do date -- again, there's a difference, 17 or 18-year-old, that's a pretty big gap for a pretty young girl. Is that something you did when you were dating? I'm not talking about the 14-year-old in that specific allegation. Would it be normal behavior back in those days for you to date a girl that is 17 or 18?

Moore: No, not normal.

Hannity again asked a compound question. Some people may criticize Moore's answer because he said this is something that he normally wouldn't do. However, we must remember that the interviewee is always listening to the interviewer. Moore adopted Hannity's language. Hannity asked if it would be "normal" and Moore responded that it would not be "normal."

Hannity: If my daughter is 17 -- my daughter is 6 years old. If she is 17 or 18, I don't want her dating a 32-year-old.

Moore: I wouldn't either.

Hannity: And you can say unequivocally you never dated anybody that was in their late teens like that when you were at 32?

Moore: It would have been out of my customary behavior. That's right.

Although he gave an answer, Moore did not answer the specific question. Hannity did not ask Moore if this was part of his customary behavior. Not answering the specific question always means the person is withholding information. Saying, "It would have been out of my customary behavior" is not the same thing as saying, "I never dated anybody that was in their late teens."

Hannity: In other words, you don't recall ever dating any girl that young when you are that old?

Moore: I've said no.

When people reference a previous answer they gave, it is an indication they are being deceptive. Most truthful people will again answer the question. Generally speaking, people do not want to lie. If a person told a lie earlier in the interview, it might be hard for him to tell the same lie a second time. Therefore, he refers to his previous answer to avoid telling a direct lie.

At the time of this writing, we don't have any transcripts of the interviews which were conducted with Moore's accusers. It is always nice to listen to what the accusers have to say. Based on Moore's non-denials and not answering specific questions, we can conclude that as an adult he was most likely involved with teenage girls

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