Get the latest from TODAY
Leigh Corfman, the woman who accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of initiating a sexual encounter when she was 14 — and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney — said she feels “a weight has been lifted” since going public with her story, even though it has cost her personally and financially.
In an exclusive television interview, her first since The Washington Post revealed her story earlier this month, Corfman addressed critics who have questioned why she failed to raise her allegations earlier, telling TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, “It’s very simple, really — I did tell people,” including her friends and family and, later when she was an adult herself, her children.
Corfman is one of nine women who have accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an adult. Moore has denied all of the allegations. He also said he specifically does not know Corfman.
“I wonder how many ‘me’s’ he doesn’t know,” she responded.
Corfman said Moore first approached her outside an Alabama courthouse as she was waiting for her mother inside. He asked for her phone number and later arranged to meet her pick her up and he took her back to his house.
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a date. I would say it was a meet. At 14 I was not dating. At 14, I was not able to make those kind of choices,” she said.
Corfman said the second time she went to Moore’s house, he laid out blankets on his living room floor and “proceeded to, um, seduce me, I guess you would say.” He removed most of her clothing, left the room and then returned wearing only in his "white underwear."
“He touched me over my clothing, what was left of it, and he tried to get me to touch him as well,” she recalled.
Corfman said she pulled back, frightened, and had Moore take her back home.
“I was a 14-year-old child trying to playing in an adult’s world, and he was 32 years old,” she said.
At the time, she didn’t realize she had been molested because “it wasn’t part of my vocabulary.”
“I had been reading Harlequin romances for years. I was expecting candlelight and roses, what I got was very different,” she said.
Corfman said she immediately told two of her friends, and then a third. All of them told her what Moore did was inappropriate.
“We weren’t prepared for that,” she said. “When he called again, I didn’t go. I made an excuse and I didn’t go.”
Corfman said she eventually told her family and family friends. She also thought about confronting Moore for years as he climbed the state judicial ranks, but feared the repercussions against her and her family.
"I wanted to walk into his office and say, 'Hey, remember me? You need to knock this stuff off. I need to go public.' My children were small so I didn’t do it," she said.
When the Washington Post caught wind of her story and sought her out, she told the paper's reporters that “if they found additional people, that I would tell my story. And they found those people,” she said.
“I didn’t go looking for this, this fell in my lap. It literally fell in my life, and I had to make a decision,” she said.
Corfman said she has not been paid or profited for any of her interviews.
“If anything, this has cost me,” she said, explaining she’s had to take a leave of absence from her job. “I have no tickets to Tahiti and my bank account has not flourished. If anything it has gone down because currently I’m not working.”
Corfman said her brief interactions with Moore had a lasting impact on her.
“It took away a lot of the specialness out of interactions with men. it took some trust away,” she said. “It took years for me to regain a sense of confidence in myself, and I felt guilty. I felt like I was the one that was to blame. It was decades before I was able to let that go.”
Corfman said she has voted as a Republican "for years and years" but that her decision to go public had nothing to do with politics.
"This is personal. It's very close to my heart," she said. "I've lived with this for a long time."
After being shown a picture of herself at 14, Corfman reflected on that time of her life.
"She sure did have a lot of promise ahead of her, and she didn’t deserve to have a 32-year-old man prey upon her," she said.
Hundreds of people have reached out to Corfman since she went public to support her and let her know that her story has helped give them strength to reveal personal tragedies of their own.
"I’ve had a lot of people that have come out and have said that because of my courage that they’re able to do the same," she said.