Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore continues to characterize a string of sexual misconduct allegations as “a desperate political attack,” even as a fifth woman has come forward claiming Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old in Gadsden, Alabama.
While Moore’s campaign is threatening legal action against The Washington Post, which published a bombshell article last week detailing the first four allegations, some in the GOP have shifted from “waiting to see all the facts” to urging Moore’s exit from the race, with some even threatening action to remove him if he wins the Dec. 12 election against Democrat Doug Jones.
The latest allegation was brought to light at a Nov. 13 press conference at the New York office of attorney Gloria Allred. There, Anniston resident Beverly Young Nelson told reporters she knew Moore when he was an Etowah County prosecutor in the late ‘70s from the Olde Hickory House restaurant where she worked after school as a waitress.
Nelson said Moore had shown “flirtatious behavior” toward her and would “sometimes pull the ends of [her] long hair” and “compliment [her] looks.” She produced her 1977 yearbook from Gadsden High School where Moore appears to have written: “To a sweeter, more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas’ — Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore D.A.”
Nelson said it was “a week or two” after he wrote those words that Moore aggressively groped her in his car after offering a ride home from the restaurant. In a prepared statement, Nelson said Moore “began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts.”
“I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch,” she said. “I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and begging him to stop.”
According to Nelson, Moore eventually stopped and let her out of the car, but not before allegedly telling her, “If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.”
Moore’s campaign issued a statement before Nelson’s claims went public in which Chairman Bill Armistead denied any allegations of sexual misconduct on Moore’s part and specifically targeted Allred for her role in other high-profile sexual assault allegations and in the Roe v. Wade case that led to the legalization of abortion in all 50 states.
With a gaggle of supporters in Gallant, Alabama, Moore briefly addressed Nelson’s claims Monday evening — claims he called “absolutely false.”
“I never did what she said I did,” Moore said. “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. If you look at this situation, you’ll see that because I’m 10 or 11 points ahead and the [election] being just 28 days out, this is a political maneuver. It has nothing to do with reality, it’s all about politics.”
Beside Moore at the press conference was his wife, Kayla Moore, who described her husband of 32 years as “the most gentle, most kind man” and decried the claims of her husband’s five accusers as “false” and a result of “the ugliest politics” she’s ever seen.
Moore declined an opportunity to answer follow-up questions about what, if any, interaction he may have had with Nelson or the four women mentioned in the Washington Post report. He also did not address his alleged signature in Nelson’s yearbook.
In the initial news report, four women — Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Gloria Thacker Deason and Debbie Wesson Gibson — alleged that Moore pursued sexual or romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Three of the women claimed to have dated Moore, though only one said their physical relationship went further than “kissing.” Corfman, however, claimed Moore took her to his home in 1979 where, after kissing her, he “took off her pants and shirt,” “touched her through her bra and underpants” and “guided her hand to his underwear.” She would have been 14 at the time.
Shortly after the story was released, a former assistant district attorney in Etowah County who worked under Moore in the late ‘70s publicly stated “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls.”
It is worth noting that one of Moore’s accusers, Gibson, previously worked as a sign-language interpreter for the Hillary Clinton campaign and other Democratic events through her company, Signs of Excellence, and has shared Facebook posts supporting Doug Jones’ campaign.
After the initial report, many Republican leaders suggested Moore should drop out of the race if the allegations proved true, but Nelson’s first-hand account on Monday appears to have spurred several of his GOP colleagues to remove that caveat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who openly supported Moore’s primary opponent Sen. Luther Strange, has called for Moore to step aside, as have at least half a dozen other Republican senators including John McCain, Todd Young and Lindsey Graham.
Even Alabama Senator Richard Shelby told reporters he found Nelson’s story “believable,” and said Moore should “seriously consider dropping out.” Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the Senate Republican campaign committee, said if Moore wins the Senate should vote to expel him — something that requires a two-thirds majority in the chamber and hasn’t happened since 1862.
Last month, Alabama’s Republican House delegation enthusiastically endorsed the party’s candidate in a joint statement released by the Moore campaign, though none have issued a statement since the allegations against him surfaced last week.
Lagniappe reached out directly to Rep. Bradley Byrne, whose district includes the Mobile area, but has not received a response.
As Republicans on the national level consider their options, some have suggested a write-in campaign by Strange or U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated the seat Moore is seeking, though Sessions hasn’t expressed any interest in leaving his post and Strange has called any write-in bid “highly unlikely.”
What’s more, Alabama GOP Chairman Terry Lathan has also publicly stated that “it would be a serious error” for any Republican to publicly endorse a write-in candidate.
As for Moore, he has remained defiant of a party leadership he has repeatedly bucked. In a tweet Monday afternoon, he wrote, “The person who should step aside is Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp.”
Across the aisle, in Alabama the Jones campaign has stayed relatively quiet about the developments Moore’s supporters have accused it of orchestrating. Jones did release a statement Monday applauding “the courage” of his opponent’s accusers and said Moore would be held accountable for his actions “by the people of Alabama.”