Embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore is firing back against a woman who accused the former jurist of sexually assaulting her in the late ‘70s and raising questions about details of her story the Moore campaign believes aren’t adding up.
Of the nine women who’ve come forward with a breadth of sexual misconduct allegations against Moore, Beverly Young Nelson’s was by far the most serious.
In a nationally televised press conference alongside high profile attorney Gloria Allred, Nelson accused Moore of trying to force himself upon her in his car after offering her a ride home from the Gadsden restaurant where she worked as a teenager. According to Nelson, the incident occurred near a dumpster behind the restaurant.
The restaurant, the Olde Hickory House, has become a national point of interest in the days since, and Monday evening, Moore’s campaign released statements from a handful of former employees and patrons which it claims “completely bust” Nelson’s story.The campaign questioned whether Nelson could have been employed at the restaurant when she was 15-years-old, as she claimed, because, “according to a former waitress” the restaurant required employees to be at least 16.
The basis for the majority of the campaign’s recent claims originated from statements made by Rhonda Kiser Ledbetter, who says she was a waitress at the Olde Hickory House around the time Nelson claims to have been assaulted by Moore, who Nelson said was a regular customer.
In addition to contradicting Nelson’s recollection of small details about the Olde Hickory House — like its regular closing time and level of exterior lighting — Ledbetter claims she doesn’t remember working with Nelson nor does she remember Moore being a frequent customer.
“I was a waitress at Olde Hickory for almost three years from 1977-1979, and I never saw Roy Moore come into the restaurant. Not one time,” Ledbetter says in the release. “[Also], the dumpsters were to the side of the building, not around back and there sure wasn’t room to park in between the building and the dumpsters.”
According to WHNT News 19 in Huntsville, the Moore campaign reached out to the station before issuing the press release to ask if it would conduct an interview Ledbetter, which it did in a segment that aired Nov. 20. Ledbetter told WHNT that she was Moore supporter and had voted for the former chief justice in the GOP primary and runoff elections.
Though she retired as a school teacher, Ledbetter is also an accomplished actress, which the Moore campaign made no mention of in its press release.
According to the Internet Movie Database, Ledbetter has multiple film credits, mostly Christian-oriented films, and has appeared movies like “Moms’ Night Out,” “Run the Race,” “Beech Hollow” and “Let There Be Light” staring Kevin Sorbo. She briefly acknowledged her acting experience in the WHNT interview, but only to say she wasn’t being paid to speak up for Moore.
“I came forward because from what I’ve seen, the media is only interested in reporting one side of this story,” Ledbetter said the campaign press release. “It’s not for me to say whether or not something happened, I can only tell the truth about factual details that I know for sure. I think all Alabamians deserve to have all of the facts so they can decide for themselves what the truth is.”
Ledbetter also went on to claim that, prior to appearing on WHNT, at least three other media outlets either declined to interview her about her time at the Olde Hickory House or conducted an interview without ever airing the segment.
In its most recent press release, the Moore campaign mentions speaking to “multiple sources” about Ledbetter’s claims, though only two other people are named, and one of them, Renee Kisser Schivera, is Ledbetter’s sister — something the press release also failed to disclose.
Schivera, who says she was also a waitress at the Olde Hickory House, questioned many of the same details in Nelson’s story that her sister did.
“When I heard [her] story, the first thing that stuck out to me was that I don’t remember Roy Moore ever coming into the restaurant. I also don’t remember [Nelson] working there,” Schivera is quoted saying in the campaign press release. “The other thing that struck me as odd is that from my best recollection, the dumpsters were to the side of the building. I just know they were visible from the road, and not back behind the building.”
Schivera also said, “as a Christian woman, she wouldn’t lie for Moore and was only sharing what she knew to be the truth.
The third “witness” named in Moore’s press release is a former police officer named Johnny Belyeu Sr., who said he worked in the courthouse and knew who Moore was but “never once saw” him or Nelson during his frequent visits to the Olde Hickory House.