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Local attorney gets big social media response with “MeAt14” hashtag

When Raleigh attorney Catherine Lawson first posted a picture of her younger self with a hashtag to remind the world that 14-year-olds can’t consent to sex, she expected some response but nothing like the one that has taken over Twitter.

The Washington Post first reported last week allegations that Roy Moore, an Alabama nominee for a U.S. Senate seat, had sexual relations with 14-year-old Leigh Corfman four decades ago. At the time, Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.

The newspaper also interviewed three other women who accused Moore of pursuing them when he was in his 30s and they were between the ages of 16 and 18. Moore, now 70, has denied the allegations.

Many Republicans were quick to denounce Moore’s behavior and called for him to step down from the Senate race, but others have defended his alleged behavior.

Lawson, a registered Republican who works for Parker Poe, posted a picture of herself at age 14 on Twitter the day the Washington Post story came out. The caption read, “Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere. #MeAt14”

“More disturbing than the well-sourced report about Moore were the number of people willing to justify his behavior,” Lawson said. “I shared a picture of me at 14 to illustrate there is no acceptable version of this story; teenagers can’t consent to a relationship with a grown man, ever.”

Within a day of putting out her photo, Twitter was flooded with other “#MeAt14” posts and the topic was trending on the social media site. Individuals from all over are still sharing photos of themselves at age 14 and describing what they were like, many noting their innocence and how they were totally ill-prepared for any relationship, much less one with a 32-year-old.

“I hoped people would share their pictures, but many went on to show powerful vulnerability,” Lawson said of the large response. “I’ve been incredibly moved by stories of innocence and of exploitation that remind us every child deserves a community that protects them.”

She added that she hopes “to affirm that there are lines we won’t cross in the name of party labels.”

As for her message for the young men and women who are reading or posting about “#MeAt14,” Lawson said simply that they are worthy of love and protection.

“And if your age was taken advantage of by someone who should have protected you, it wasn’t your fault,” she said.

Here are some of the responses:

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