A woman says Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a minor.
Beverly Young Nelson said Monday that the alleged incident occurred in 1977, when she was a 16-year-old waitress in a Gadsden, Ala., restaurant where Moore, then 30, was a regular customer and would often flirt with her. Moore even signed her high school yearbook in December of that year, she said.
A week or two later, Nelson said, she was waiting to get a ride home from work from her boyfriend, who was late, when Moore offered to drive her. Nelson said that Moore groped her in his car without her consent. When she told him to stop, Nelson said Moore squeezed the back of her neck and tried to force her head “onto his crotch.”
“I was terrified,” Nelson said in a detailed statement delivered at a press conference in New York City, where she was introduced to reporters by her lawyer, Gloria Allred. “I thought that he was going to rape me.”
Nelson said that at some point Moore gave up and warned her not to tell anyone about the encounter.
“He then looked at me and said, ‘You are a child. I am the district attorney,’” Nelson recalled. “’If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.’”
Moore, now 70, called the charges “absolutely false.”
“I never did what she said I did,” Moore told reporters on Monday night. “I don’t even know the woman. I don’t know anything about her. I don’t even know where the restaurant is or was.”
Nelson said that she met Moore when she was a 15-year-old waitress at the restaurant. Nelson said that on Dec. 22, 1977, she brought her high school yearbook to work, and Moore asked her to sign it.
“To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Moore allegedly wrote in the yearbook, signing it: “Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”
She showed the page to reporters at the press conference.
Nelson is the fifth woman to accuse Moore of pursuing a sexual relationship with them when they were teenagers. She said she was inspired to come forward by Moore’s other accusers.
“If I thought I was Mr. Moore’s only victim, I probably would have taken my secret to my grave,” Nelson said. “Mr. Moore no longer has any power over me, and I will no longer live in fear.”
Nelson said that her coming forward has nothing to do with politics, noting that both she and her husband, a truck driver, voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
“This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Republicans or the Democrats,” she said. “It has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s sexual assault when I was a teenager.”
Allred, who represented some of the women who accused President Trump and Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct or assault, called for a Senate hearing on the allegations. Nelson, Allred said, is willing to testify under oath.
“Gloria Allred is a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle,” Bill Armistead said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Allred was the attorney who claims credit for giving us Roe v. Wade which has resulted in the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies.”
Armistead added: “We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. This is a witch hunt against a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character.”
On Thursday, the Washington Post published its bombshell report quoting a woman, Leigh Corfman, who alleged that in 1979 — when she was 14 and Moore was 32 — Moore partially undressed her and himself, touched her over her undergarments and guided her hand to touch him. The age of consent in Alabama was then and remains 16.
The story also quoted three other women who said Moore hit on them when they were 16 to 18 and he was in his 30s. Moore initially dismissed the entire report as “fake news” and an attack by “the Democratic Party and the country’s most liberal newspaper.” On Friday, Moore denied even knowing Corfman, who told the Post she with her mother when she met him. Her mother, Nancy Wells, confirmed her daughter’s account.
On Sunday, a defiant Moore told supporters that said he intends to sue the newspaper, and questioned the timing of the accusations.
“These attacks said I was with a minor child and are false and untrue — and for which they will be sued,” Moore said. “Why would they come now? Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate.”
“We do not plan to let anybody deter us from this race,” he added.
Moore’s wife, Kayla, suggested his accusers were part of a concerted smear campaign.
“This is the same Gloria Allred that did the very exact thing to Trump during his campaign,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Monday morning. “Going on two months now they’ve been on a witchhunt here.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the Senate should vote to expel Moore should he refuse to withdraw from the race.
“I believe the individuals speaking out against Roy Moore spoke with courage and truth, proving he is unfit to serve in the United States Senate,” Gardner said in a statement. “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he believes the accusations in the Post report are true and that Moore should step aside.
“I believe the women, yes,” said McConnell, who backed Moore’s GOP challenger, Luther Strange, in the primary.
Moore responded via Twitter.
Moore and Democratic candidate Doug Jones are vying for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was appointed attorney general by President Trump. The special election is scheduled for Dec. 12.
Trump, who also backed Luther Strange, has yet to comment publicly on the allegations against Moore. Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president “believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case, one from many years ago — to destroy a person’s life.”
“However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside,” Sanders added. “Regardless, the president must and will remain focused on representing our country on his historic trip to Asia where he has been treated with great respect and made unprecedented progress in further strengthening alliances and promoting America’s interests above all else.”
On Sunday, White House officials said they were disturbed by the allegations but cautioned against a rush to judgment against the Senate hopeful.
“I think that there’s a special place in hell for those who actually perpetrate these crimes,” White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC. “And I think Roy Moore has to do more explaining than he has done so far.”
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