Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

A retired police officer who worked juvenile cases in Gadsden, Alabama for 37 years said it was well known that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore “liked young girls” decades ago, but her department never got an official complaint, so there “was really nothing we could do about it.”

“I didn’t realize it until some time later that when they said he liked young girls, I just thought he liked young ladies, you know, younger than him, maybe in their 20s,” Faye Gary told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Tuesday. “I had no idea, or we had no idea that we were talking about 14-year-olds. But we never got a complaint on it.”

She said the officers were “advised” that Moore had been suspended from the local mall because “he would hang around the young girls” who worked there and that it “got into a place of where they say he was harassing.” Police were also warned to keep an eye on Moore at sporting events and “make sure that, you know, he didn’t hang around the cheerleaders,” Gary said.

Police were on the lookout “every day” for a complaint to come in on Moore, she said, as his behavior was known “not only in our department, but in the courthouse too.”

Moore has been accused by multiple women of either pursing relationships or making inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Moore has flatly denied all the allegations and has said the claims are just part of a political attack on his campaign by the media.

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Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) wife, Kelley Paul, said her family hasn’t spoken to the neighbor who allegedly attacked her husband in a decade, “other than a casual wave from the car.”

That revelation from Kelley Paul, in an op-ed for CNN published Wednesday, pokes holes in the theory that the alleged assault was the result of an ongoing trivial dispute between the two neighbors.

“The fact is, neither Rand nor I have spoken to the attacker in 10 years – since before his wife and children moved away. … Nobody in our family has, nor have we communicated with anyone in his family,” she said of Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who was arrested and charged with assault. “With Rand’s travel to D.C. in the last seven years, he has rarely seen this man at all.”

She went on to call out the media for reporting that there was any type of alleged dispute between her husband and Boucher, saying “the only ‘dispute’ existed solely in the attacker’s trouble mind.” She called the incident, which left Rand Paul with six broken ribs, pleural effusion and pneumonia in his damaged lung, a “deliberate, blindside attack.”

“Despite this, he refused to give in to the pain and was determined to fly back to Washington last week to do his job,” she said. “This has been a terrible experience; made worse by the media’s gleeful attempts to blame Rand for it, ridiculing him for everything from mowing his own lawn to composting.”

Reports of the motive behind Boucher’s alleged attack have been contradictory. Some neighbors have told reporters that the pair have been feuding for years over yard waste; others have reported that the attack was politically motivated. That claim was disputed by Boucher’s lawyer when Boucher pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after he was arrested.

Rand Paul himself appeared to mock the stories about there being a neighborly dispute  between himself and Boucher when he tweeted two articles from conservative outlets that cite neighbors saying the alleged assault was not the result of a landscaping disagreement.

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The editorial board at one of the most influential publications in Rep. John Conyers (R-MI) home district wants their representative to resign.

In an editorial published Wednesday, the paper praised Conyers’ valiant history as a “stalwart” leader in the civil rights movement and his work in Congress the past 53 years to pass major voting rights and health care reform legislation. Because of that success as a lawmaker, the paper said it reached its conclusion with “an incredible amount of disappointment.”

BuzzFeed was first to report Tuesday that Conyers paid a $27,000 settlement to a former staffer after she complained to the compliance office that she was fired because she resisted Conyers’ sexual advances. The BuzzFeed report was based on sworn affidavits made by the alleged victim and three other former staffers. The allegations in and of themselves are enough cause for Conyers’ resignation, the Detroit Free Press said.

“In the current climate of revelations about powerful men abusing their positions and committing horrific acts of harassment, abuse or assault on women, those allegations should be enough to spur a dedicated congressional inquiry,” the editorial said. “Without a doubt, Congress has a real problem, and one that the American people deserve to see resolved.”

The paper also took issue with Conyers’ decision to quietly settle the complaint through his congressional office when it could have been done through the compliance office, which pays for the settlement of complaints from employees for members of Congress. The editors said that sort of handling is commonplace in the private sector, but should “never, ever happen where public dollars (and public accountability) are concerned.”

“John Conyers Jr. must go – after 53 years in Congress, after a stellar career of fighting for equality, after contributing so much to southeast Michigan and the nation,” they wrote. “It’s a tragic end to his public career. But it’s the appropriate consequence for the stunning subterfuge his office has indulged here, and a needed warning to other members of Congress that this can never be tolerated.”

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Before all-but endorsing Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore Tuesday afternoon, behind closed doors President Trump has been skeptical in recent weeks about the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against the former judge, according to Politico.

Trump has said he doubted the stories of the women who have come forward recently claiming Moore pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s, according to two White House advisers and two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Politico.

The White House advisers said Trump compared the allegations to what he faced just weeks before the 2016 election when a number of women came forward alleging Trump had harassed them — claims he continues to deny, just like Moore.

Before leaving Washington on Tuesday to hole up in his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving with his family, Trump appeared to let some of those private sentiments slip.

“Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it,” he told reporters Tuesday. “He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen.”

The White House has mostly steered clear of taking a direct stance on the issue publicly since the allegations surfaced, but Trump reportedly personally gave White House counselor Kellyanne Conway permission to appear on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday to slam Moore’s candidate Democrat Doug Jones, Politico’s sources said. During that interview she made veiled suggestions that Trump needed Moore’s vote to pass tax reform legislation.

Trump has also reportedly been asking advisers for polling updates in Alabama as well this past week, and has been curious about whether locals believe the allegations against Moore. Despite calls from congressional Republican leaders for Moore to drop out of the race, the President didn’t see the benefit in coming out against Moore, according to Politico.

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It’s nearly Thanksgiving and President Donald Trump is tweeting about gratitude.

Or, a lack thereof.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump called the father of a UCLA basketball player who shoplifted and was arrested while in China earlier this month an “ungrateful fool!” and said “IT WAS ME” who helped get his son home safely.

The President called LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA Bruins player LiAngelo Ball, “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.” Trump said LaVar Ball “could have spent the next five to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you.”

Trump has been vocal about his expectations of gratitude from the basketball players ever since they were released from detainment. When the players were en route back to the U.S. Trump asked on Twitter whether they would thank him for helping negotiate their release. All three players thanked the President at a press conference when they returned.

Trump responded with a poetic tweet, in which he told the players “you’re welcome,” guided them to thank Chinese President Xi Jinping and told all three to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!”

LaVar Ball, the chief executive of the sports apparel company Big Baller Brand, has refused to thank Trump for intervening to help get his son home. In an interview with ESPN on Friday he said that “everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” referring to Trump. He told CNN on Monday that he would give praise if it were due.

“How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you,” he said.

That didn’t sit well with the President, who has said he spoke with Xi during one of their meetings in Beijing about the UCLA players’ detainment. He tweeted over the weekend that he “should have left them in jail!” and claimed shop lifting is “a very big deal in China, as it should be (five to 10 years in jail).”

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CBS News has terminated its contract with longtime reporter and anchor Charlie Rose after The Washington Post reported on eight women’s “extremely disturbing” allegations against him, said CBS News President David Rhodes.

Rhodes said he was “deeply disappointed and angry” and said the termination was “effective immediately.”

“Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, there is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace – a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work. We need to be such a place,” Rhodes said. “I’ve often heard things used to be different. And no one may be able to correct the past. But what may once have been accepted should never have been acceptable.”

In order to maintain CBS News’ “credibility” reporting on “extraordinary revelations” at other media outlets, CBS needs to maintain credibility managing what should be “basic standards of behavior,” Rhodes said, which is why they acted so swiftly with Rose.

“I’m deeply disappointed and angry that people were victimized—and even people not connected with these events could see their hard work undermined,” he said. “If all of us commit to the best behavior and the best work – that is what we can be known for.”

Rose has been a co-host of “CBS This Morning” since the show’s inception and is also a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.”

The Post published a scathing report on Monday evening, detailing the allegations of eight women who claimed Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them. According to the women, those advances included inappropriate phone calls, walking around naked in front of them and groping them. The alleged incidents spanned over two decades, started in the late 1990s, according to the Post.

Rose was suspended less than two hours after the Post published its piece and Rose later posted a statement on Twitter appoligizing for his “inappropriate behavior” and saying he didn’t think all the accusations were accurate. He said he thought he was “pursuing shared feelings” at the time.

On “CBS This Morning” Tuesday, Rose’s former co-hosts Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King were brutally honest about the disturbing nature of the allegations and their disappointment in Rose.

“This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period,” O’Donnell said.

PBS also announced Tuesday it was terminating its relationship with Rose and cancelling distribution of his programs, according to New York Times reporter John Koblin.

PBS had already said Monday night that it would no longer distribute Rose’s nightly “Charlie Rose” show after the allegations surfaced, PBS News Hour reported.

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A group of 36 women who worked with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) during his tenure at “Saturday Night Live” said on Tuesday that the senator and former comedian never behaved inappropriately toward any of them.

The SNL staffers wrote in a letter that Franken’s alleged behavior toward LA radio host Leeann Tweeden in 2006 was “foolish” and “stupid,” but said they felt “compelled to stand up” for the senator because Franken never behaved that way toward any of them.

“We would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard,” the staffers wrote.

The staffers said they wanted to “quickly and directly affirm” that they had never felt disrespected by Franken in the years they’d worked with him on the show.

“We think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public,” the staffers wrote. “In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.”

Franken worked as a writer and performer on SNL from 1975 to 1980 and 1985 to 1995, according to NBC News. He assumed office as a senator in 2009.

Two women came forward in the last week with allegations of sexual misconduct against Franken. Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her, and groping her when she was asleep, when the two were performing together on a USO tour in 2006, before Franken was elected to the Senate.

Franken apologized publicly to Tweeden in two separate statements and asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the incident.

On Monday, a second woman, Lindsay Menz, came forward with allegations against Franken. Menz told CNN that Franken groped her while the two took a photo together at a state fair in 2010, after the senator took office.

Franken said he didn’t remember taking the photo, but said he felt bad that she left their interaction “feeling disrespected.”

A spokesperson for Franken on Sunday said the senator has no plans to resign.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the news that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a sexual misconduct complaint with a staffer in 2015 “extremely troubling” and vowed to continue reviewing House policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.

“People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination,” Ryan said, outlining the recent steps the House has made to combat sexual misconduct in Congress.

Last month the Committee on House Administration reviewed its procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination, and last week that committee issued a new policy requiring “mandatory training for all members and staff,” he said.

“Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review,” he said.

Additionally, Sens. Kristen Gillabrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced legislation last week that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints as well as require mandatory training for everyone in Congress.

Ryan’s statement follows news first reported by BuzzFeed that Conyers paid a former staffer a $27,000 settlement two years ago after the staffer filed a complaint claiming Conyers fired her for refusing his sexual advances. Conyers also made sexual advances toward more than one female staff member and asked other women for sexual favors, according to copies of affidavits shared with BuzzFeed.

When reached for comment, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office referred TPM to the statement she gave Buzzfeed, which said she was not aware of the settlement and that she supports efforts to make the complaint process more transparent.

“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi told Buzzfeed. “I strongly support her efforts.”

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The female co-hosts of “CBS This Morning” were blunt and honest Tuesday morning while reporting on the allegations against their co-host Charlie Rose, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by eight women.

“This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period,” co-host Norah O’Donnell said during the first segment following Rose’s suspension.

The Washington Post published a scathing report on Monday evening, detailing the allegations of eight women who claimed Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them. According to the women, those advances included inappropriate phone calls, walking around naked in front of them and groping them. The alleged incidents spanned over two decades, started in the late 1990s, according to the Post.

“This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women,” O’Donnell said. “Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive.”

Co-host Gayle King said she was still “reeling” from the news and got less than two hours of sleep the night before.

“Both my son and my daughter called me; Oprah called me and said ‘Are you okay?’ I am not okay,” she said. “I’m really struggling. …What do you say, when someone that you deeply care about has done something that’s so horrible? How do you wrap your brain around that?”

King continued saying she was “deeply rocked” by the allegations against Rose and said her colleague “doesn’t get a pass because I can’t stop thinking about the anguish of these women.”

Both King and O’Donnell said they hadn’t spoken with Rose yet, but King said she planned to later Tuesday.

Rose was officially suspended less than two hours after the Post published its piece on Monday. In announcing his suspension, a network spokesperson called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said CBS takes them “very seriously.”

Rose himself has since “deeply” apologized for his “inappropriate behavior” and said he is “greatly embarrassed” for behaving insensitively in the past, according to a statement he published on Twitter. He said he didn’t think all the accusations were accurate and said he thought he was “pursuing shared feelings” at the time.

Rose wasn’t the only prominent member of the media who was outed for sexual misconduct on Monday. The New York Times has suspended one of its White House correspondents, Glenn Thrush, after Vox published a report detailing his alleged inappropriate sexual advances toward young female journalists in the past.

Watch the “CBS This Morning” segment below:

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Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore attempted on Monday evening to refute allegations about Moore being banned from a mall in his hometown and debunk the allegations of one of his accusers.

“On Monday evening, the Moore Campaign unveiled statements from key witnesses that completely bust the story of Beverly Nelson and Gloria Allred and further reveal an unconscionable bias on the part of state and national press to hide the truth from Alabama voters who will undoubtedly see through the ‘fake news’ and elect Judge Moore for the man that they have always known him to be,” one of the statements said, referencing Nelson’s accusations that surround her encounter with Moore at the Olde Hickory House restaurant. The second statement about the mall also attacked the media.

Nelson came forward with her attorney Allred last week after The Washington Post first reported that Moore allegedly pursued relationships or made unwanted sexual advances toward multiple women when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s.

Nelson said Moore allegedly offered her a ride home from the Olde Hickory House restaurant where she worked when she was 16. He then allegedly parked his car near dumpsters behind the building and attempted to force her to have sex with him, she said. Nelson has also gone public with her high school yearbook, which she claims Moore signed.

Moore has vehemently denied all the accusations against him and his campaign’s main line of defense has been questioning the legitimacy of the signature in Nelson’s yearbook. In Monday evening’s statements, the campaign quoted multiple witnesses who worked at Olde Hickory House, attempting to poke holes in Nelson’s account of the incident.

A former waitress said the restaurant didn’t hire anyone under the age of 16, but Nelson said she was 15 when she started. Two former employees questioned the location of the dumpster, saying it was on the side of the building, not the back. A few of Moore’s witnesses said there wasn’t an entrance to the building from the back of the parking lot and another former employee said the restaurant never closed before 11 p.m., which they said contradicts Nelson’s claims that the restaurant closed at 10 p.m. the night of the alleged assault.

The campaign also claimed that these witness accounts had been shared with multiple news outlets, but “the outlets have failed to report.”

The second statement included quotes from three former employees of Gadsden mall, one of whom oversaw mall security, attempting to discredit reports that Moore was banned from the mall because of his alleged behavior toward teenage girls.

One witness, Johnnie V. Sanders, who the Moore campaign said was an employee of Gadsden Mall from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s, said there was a different “prominent” man who was banned from the mall for similar reasons and said he may have been confused with Moore.

“There was a prominent man of Etowah County, whom is now deceased that was banned for reasons such as the allegations against Judge Moore. However, due to respect for the family, I decline to reveal his name,” Sanders said in the statement. “Despite allegations against other patrons of the mall, I never heard of Roy Moore’s name come in conversation with any such misconduct against women or a supposed banning from the Gadsden Mall.”

Moore campaign strategist Brett Doster said the campaign put out the statements to combat the “one-sided reporting” on the accusations against the former judge.

“The people of Alabama are tired of false accusations and one-sided reporting from the liberal media,” Doster said in the statement. “Truth matters or it doesn’t and the Moore Campaign will deliver the truth about the character of Judge Roy Moore to affirm what the people of Alabama are already convinced of.”

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