Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, is facing fresh allegations that he paid for and pressured a former girlfriend to have an abortion, in the latest controversy to hit the former American football star’s campaign with fewer than two weeks to go until the US midterm elections.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Gloria Allred, a high-profile lawyer who has represented many sexual harassment and assault victims, introduced her anonymous client, “Jane Doe”, who alleged that after a multiyear relationship with Walker in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he paid for and pressured her to end a pregnancy.
The woman making the allegations did not appear in front of cameras, but read an emotional statement to reporters, saying she would not show her face or use her name “for fear of reprisals” against her and her family.
“Herschel Walker is a hypocrite and he’s not fit to be a US senator,” said the woman, who dismissed suggestions she was coming forward because he is a Republican political candidate.
Walker has campaigned in part on calls for a national abortion ban without exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.
“I am a registered independent and I voted for Donald Trump in both elections,” the woman said. “I do not believe that Herschel is morally fit to be a US senator. And that is the reason why I am speaking up.”
Wednesday’s press conference comes less than two weeks before the midterms, when voters across the US will head to the polls and determine which party controls Congress for the next two years.
Walker is challenging Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in a race that is widely seen as crucial to determining whether the Democrats can maintain the reins of the Senate. The latest polling average from RealClearPolitics shows Warnock leading Walker by a razor-thin margin of 0.5 points, well within the margin of error.
Rachel Petri, Warnock’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement on Wednesday that the newest allegation was “the latest example of a troubling pattern we have seen play out again and again and again”.
“Herschel Walker shouldn’t be representing Georgians in the US Senate,” Petri added.
The accusation comes just weeks after the Daily Beast first reported allegations that Walker had paid a different girlfriend to end her pregnancy in 2009. Walker called that report a “flat-out lie”.
Both claims come after revelations earlier this year that Walker — who has separately not denied his ex-wife’s allegation that he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her — fathered several previously undisclosed children. Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill have nevertheless stood by Walker, a political novice who first entered the Senate race at the urging of Trump.
At a campaign stop in Georgia on Wednesday with Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, Walker denied the Jane Doe allegations, saying, “I’m done with this foolishness,” and accused Democrats of “saying whatever they can to win this . . . seat”.
Graham likened Walker to Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court justice who faced allegations of sexual assault during his confirmation hearings.
“I’ve seen this movie before, folks,” said Graham, adding: “There is going to be a backlash in Georgia. This is coming from LA. It is coming from an activist Democratic celebrity lawyer . . . and people in Georgia are not this dumb.”