Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republican candidate Roy Moore should end his campaign for U.S. Senate in Alabama, following allegations that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. “I think he should step aside,” said McConnell. His comments marked the most definitive position he has taken on Moore’s candidacy since The Washington Post reported the allegations last Thursday. Asked by a reporter if he believed the allegations, McConnell responded: “I believe the women, yes.” While it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot ahead of the Dec. 12 special election, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) — whom Moore defeated in the primary — or some other Republican. The Post reported Thursday that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign. [Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32] McConnell made his comments Monday morning in Louisville, where he was touting the GOP’s tax reform plan. Last week, McConnell said that “if” the allegations were true, Moore would need to step aside, stopping short of the position he took on Monday. In addition to Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the three women says that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact. Moore has declined to rule out that he may have dated girls in their late teens when he was in his 30s, but he has said he did not remember any encounters. [Senate candidate Roy Moore does not rule out that he may have dated teen girls when he was in his 30s] While other Republican lawmakers have called on Moore to step down, McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican in Washington to do so. Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump believed that “if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.” Asked about Moore, Trump more recently has told reporters traveling with him in Asia that “I have not seen very much about him, about it.” Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said Sunday that Moore needs time to defend himself against the allegations and that Trump will look more closely at the issue after he returns from his trip. Also on Sunday, Moore sought to refocus his campaign on the conservative religious ideals most likely to motivate his base voters, dismissing the controversy surrounding his campaign. Addressing a gathering at the Huntsville Christian Academy in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday night, the former state judge suggested that he was investigating his accusers, threatened to sue The Washington Post and called on the United States to restore its culture by going “back to God.” “We can be proud of where we came from and where we’re going if we go back to God,” Moore said at his second public event since The Post reported the allegations of misconduct last week. “If we go back to God, we can be unified again,” he said. Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the following three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. Senate Democrats have wrestled with how to leverage the allegations — and what they might do if Moore becomes their colleague if he wins the election. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) floated the idea of expelling Moore from the Senate if he is victorious. “We may not have much choice on that but we have choice on something else,” said Klobuchar, who recently co-sponsored a bill requiring sexual harassment training for senators and their staff members. “That is that you can expel a senator once they are in with two-thirds of the vote after the ethics committee does an investigation.” But Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that unseating a senator is “several steps removed from where we are today,” arguing that Trump needs to “do more when it comes to this situation in Alabama.” Dino Grandoni and John Wagner contributed to this report.