Washington (CNN)Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted Friday that he believes there is merit to the accusations of sexual abuse against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, adding that the Alabama Republican should "step aside."
Mitt Romney: Roy Moore should step aside
"Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman," Romney tweeted, referring to the accuser named in a Washington Post report published Thursday. "Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside."
Romney's tweet is in contrast to sentiments voiced by many other Republicans who have said Moore should leave the race if the allegations are true. It's unlikely that the allegations brought against Moore will ever be proven in the court of law due to the statutes of limitations on sexual offense cases involving victims under 16 years old that were in effect at the time.
In a statement from the White House, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: "Like most Americans, the President believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life."
"The President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used similar phrasing in a statement he put out Thursday, saying, "If these allegations are true, he must step aside."
According to the Post, Moore allegedly initiated a sexual encounter with Corfman, then a 14-year-old, in the late 1970s. Three other women also told the Post that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s. Two of the teens acknowledged dating Moore for up to three months. None of those three women told the Post that Moore sexually harassed, or assaulted them, or forced them into a relationship. Alabama's legal age of consent is 16.
Moore denied the allegations to the Washington Post. And in a series of tweets on Thursday, Moore, who faces a December 12 US Senate election, responded to the story.
"The Obama-Clinton Machine's liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me," saying, "We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message."
Moore wrote, "The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal -- even inflict physical harm -- if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me."