US senate hopeful brands historical allegations 'fake news'
Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for next month's US Senate election in Alabama, has strongly denied claims by a woman that he made inappropriate advances to her several decades ago when she was 14.
The Moore campaign called the Washington Post report "the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation".
Senior Republicans swiftly called for Mr Moore to step aside if the allegations are shown to be true.
"The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling," said Colorado Senate chairman Cory Gardner, who leads the party's Senate campaign arm.
"If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added: "If these allegations are true, he must step aside."
The Moore campaign's statement said: "Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today's Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake."
The statement noted that Mr Moore has been married to the same woman for 33 years and has four children and five grandchildren.
The Moore campaign continued: "After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now."
The incidents are alleged to have taken place when Mr Moore, the 70-year-old former state Supreme Court judge, was serving as an assistant district attorney in his early 30s, according to the Post.
The newspaper reports that Mr Moore, then 32, first approached 14-year-old Leigh Corfman in early 1979 outside a courtroom in Etowah county, Alabama.
Mr Moore won the right to represent the Republicans in the December 12 special election after surviving a bruising primary election that divided the party, including President Donald Trump and his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Mr Trump backed Senator Luther Strange in the contest, while Mr Bannon and much of the far-right portion of the party backed Mr Moore.
Alabama law lists the legal age of consent as 16.
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for bringing felony charges involving sexual abuse of a minor in 1979 would have run out three years later.
Ms Corfman never filed a police report or a civil suit, the Post said.