Roy Moore Dated ‘Younger Ladies’ For Their ‘Purity,’ His Pastor Friend Says

Flip Benham talks to the media about his opposition to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance outside the Meeting Chamber during a break at the Charlotte City Council meeting on Monday, May 23, 2016. The City Council decided to take the discussion of the repeal of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance off the agenda for the meeting.
David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer
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A prominent right-wing preacher who appeared alongside Senate candidate Roy Moore at a campaign rally just days ago said that Moore dated teen girls because of their “purity” and because when he got back from Vietnam there weren’t any women his age left to date.

Pastor Flip Benham told a local Alabama radio show on Monday that there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teenage girls.

“Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, was a younger woman,” Benham said on WAPI 99.5 FM Monday evening. “He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”

Moore himself has strenuously denied accusations from multiple women that he made inappropriate sexual advances on them when they were teens — including one who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and another who says he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14.

But while Moore said he didn’t “generally” date teen girls when he was in his early 30s during an interview with right-wing host Sean Hannity shortly after the first accuser came forward, he suggested he may have done so after asking their parents’ permission.

And while he didn’t start dating his wife Kayla until she was in her early 20s, he’s said that he first spotted her at a dance recital when she was a teen.

Benham, a controversial anti-gay pastor who Moore had onstage to defend him at a campaign rally less than a week ago, seemed to suggest there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teen girls.

And he went on to argue there was nothing wrong with Moore dating a girl as young as 14 with her parents’ permission — though he balked when the radio hosts asked him if he felt the same way about a 10-year-old.

Benham’s interview was first noticed nationally by the liberal media watchdog group Right Wing Watch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.
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