Roy Moore, the homophobic former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice and failed U.S. Senate candidate, is suing comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, alleging defamation and fraud.
Moore, whose run for the Senate was derailed in part by accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior with teenage girls, including the assault of a 14-year-old, says in the suit that he was "falsely portrayed, mocked and defamed as a sex offender and pedophile" in a segment on Cohen's satirical TV show Who Is America?
He filed the suit today in federal court in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles Times reports. It also names Showtime Networks, which carries the program, and CBS, Showtime's parent company.
In the segment, taped in February and aired July 29, Cohen posed as an Israeli antiterrorism expert named Erran Morad and claimed to be testing a device that detected pedophiles. The device went off every time it was near Moore, who denied ever having been accused of pedophilia.
Moore cut the interview short and later issued a Facebook statement saying, "I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney." Several of Cohen's other interviewees in the show have said he misled them.
In the lawsuit, Moore says he has "suffered extreme emotional distress" because of the portrayal and that Cohen tricked him into doing the interview. Cohen has adopted other personas for various segments of the program, such as a right-wing conspiracy theorist and an ex-convict.
Cohen has been sued before, the Times notes -- by two college students and an etiquette expert over portrayals in his film Borat, and a bingo hall worker over Bruno, saying she was injured while making the movie. All the suits have failed, partly because those who brought them had signed forms releasing the filmmakers from liability. Moore also signed such a release, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but he now claims it is void because his approval was gained through fraud.
Moore, meanwhile, has sued three women who accused him of sexual misconduct, saying they conspired to destroy his reputation, while one of them, Leigh Corfman, has sued him for defamation over his contention that she lied about her relationship with him. Corfman has said Moore dated her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was in his early 30s, and that at one point he touched her in a sexual manner and attempted to make her do the same to him. Moore has said other misconduct allegations are false as well.
Moore, a Republican, lost the Senate special election last year to Democrat Doug Jones. Throughout his career, Moore has been known for his extremely anti-LGBTQ views. His claim that Alabama was not bound by the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling got him permanently removed from the state's high court for ethics violations.
His suit against Cohen, Showtime, and CBS seeks $95 million in damages. Moore is represented in the suit by Larry Klayman, who is a right-wing political activist as well as a lawyer. Showtime declined comment on the suit, while Cohen's representatives have yet to respond to requests, according to The Hollywood Reporter.