The whirlwind continues to swirl around Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election for the U.S. Senate, as events surrounding his embattled campaign continue to unfold at a frenetic pace.
On Monday afternoon, another woman came forward to accuse Moore, Alabama’s former chief justice, of making sexual advances toward her when she was a teenager and he was a district attorney in Gadsden.
Beverly Young Nelson said that Moore tried to force himself on her in his car, which was parked in the back of the Old Hickory House barbecue restaurant where she worked. The attack is alleged to have taken place in December 1977, when she was 16 years old and Moore was 30.
Nelson detailed her version of the incident during a press conference in Madison, New York arranged by attorney Gloria Allred, who’s made a reputation of taking on high-profile, often controversial cases involving sexual harassment and women’s rights.
In a prepared statement, Nelson said that she worked at the Old Hickory House while she was a student at Gadsden High School, and that Moore was a regular customer there, usually sitting in the same seat at the counter. Nelson said that she had long red hair at the time and would often compete in beauty pageants, and that Moore would sometimes flirt with her by tugging on the ends of her hair.
Nelson said that one night her boyfriend was late in picking her up from her job after closing time, and when Moore saw her waiting outside, he offered to take her home, which she accepted. But instead of pulling out onto Meighan Boulevard, she said, Moore drove his car around to the back of the restaurant, parked in a dark area between the restaurant and a dumpster and began to force himself on her.
“He reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts,” Nelson said. “I tried to open my 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 … . I thought he was going to try to rape me.”
Nelson said he finally gave up, but told her that if she told others about the incident, no one would believe her story because he was the Etowah County district attorney. She said she had bruises around her neck from the attack, which she concealed with makeup.
Allred showed an inscription she claimed Moore wrote in Nelson’s high school yearbook, just before the alleged attack. The message reads, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House.”
Allred said that Nelson will not seek any civil or criminal proceedings against Moore, but that Nelson would testify to the events under oath. Allred called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings about the multiple allegations against Moore that have surfaced in the past week, saying that the hearings should be held in the next two weeks and that Moore should be subpoenaed to testify under oath.
In an appearance Monday evening, Moore denied all of Nelson’s accusations.
“I want to make it perfectly clear. The people of Alabama know me. They know my character. They know what I’ve stood for in the political world for over 40 years. I can tell you without hesitation this is 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 11 points ahead — 10 or 11 points ahead — this race being just 28 days off, this is a political maneuver. It has nothing to do with reality. This is all about politics.”
Moore’s wife, Kayla, added a defense of her husband. “I’ve been married to this man 32 years. We’ve been together for 33 altogether. He has never one time lifted a finger to me. He is the most gentle, most kind man that I have ever known in my life. He’s Godly, he’s loving and everyone in our community knows it,” she said. “These things are false. It’s ugly, and it’s the ugliest politics that I’ve ever been in in my life.”
Even before Allred’s press conference, opposition to Moore continuing as the Republican candidate had been building within GOP ranks in Washington, particularly from those who supported incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the runoff election last month. Among those calling for Moore to step aside were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who has been the target of considerable criticism from Moore before the allegations surfaced. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC controlled in part by McConnell, spent millions on advertising opposing Moore in the runoff.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, also withdrew his support of Moore, followed later Monday evening by Sen. Ted Cruz, also of Texas. Additional calls for Moore to leave the campaign have come from Sen. John McCain of Massachusetts and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both of whom were unsuccessful Republican nominees for the presidency.
And after Monday’s new allegations, National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Sen. Cory Gardner took things a step further. Gardner, R-Colorado, said that if Moore is elected, the Senate should vote to expel him once he arrives in Washington. Expulsion is an extreme measure that the Senate last successfully invoked during the Civil War against Southern members. The upper chamber last threatened to expel a Senator in 1995, when Bob Packwood, R-Oregon< was accused of sexual misconduct. Packwood resigned before expulsion proceedings could begin.
While many in the Washington GOP establishment have come down against Moore, President Donald Trump has refrained from commenting while on a trip to Asia. Back home in Alabama, the state’s Republican hierarchy has yet to make an official statement. A spokesperson for the Alabama Republican Party had promised a statement from Chairwoman Terry Lathan last Friday, but none had been issued as of 4 p.m. Monday, and efforts to get further comments from state party officials have been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Moore still has plenty of supporters standing by him in the state, including more than 50 pastors and clergy who signed a letter distributed via Facebook by Moore’s wife, Kayla.
“You can know a man by his enemies, and he’s made plenty – from the radical organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU to the liberal media and a handful of establishment politicians from Washington. He has friends too, a lot of them. They live all across this great State, work hard all week, and fill our pews on Sunday,” the letter read in part.
The identity of the original author of the letter could not be confirmed, and a report by al.com said that one pastor from Montgomery whose name appears in the list of signatories did not consent to the use of her name.
Aside from his statement Monday evening, Moore has largely avoided commenting directly to news media, preferring instead to take the path blazed by Trump — commenting via Twitter. After McConnell called for Moore to step aside, Moore then responded by demanding McConnell do the same. “The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp” Moore posted Monday morning.
Moore also repeated his denials of the accusations in a speech at a Christian school in Huntsville on Saturday, during which he announced his intent to file a lawsuit against The Washington Post, which published the story containing the original accusations by four women. That event was closed to news media, though the campaign released a video of the event on its Facebook page.
The campaign of Doug Jones, the Birmingham attorney and Democratic candidate, has stayed nearly silent in the wake of the Moore accusations. On Monday, the campaign issued a brief statement: “We applaud the courage of these women. Roy Moore will be held accountable by the people of Alabama for his actions.”
Read coverage of the story:
GOP Chair Warns Republican Office-Holders Against Supporting Write-In Candidates (Alabama Political Reporter)
Senate Republicans Repudiate Roy Moore’s Candidacy and Urge Him to Leave the Race (Washington Post)
GOP Confronts Long-Shot Options for Dealing With Moore (Associated Press)
No State Precedent for Successful Statewide Write-In Candidate (Decatur Daily)
Sen. Richard Shelby Says Roy Moore Should Seriously Consider Dropping Out (WAAY)
What All 52 Republican Senators Say About Embattled Alabama Candidate Roy Moore (ABC News)
Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Roy Moore Make Senate Race in Alabama a Toss-Up (Anniston Star)
Roy Moore Allegations Prompt Reflections on Fundamentalist Culture in Which Some Christian Men Date Teens (Washington Post)
Gadsden Locals Say Moore’s Predatory Behavior At Mall, Restaurants Not A Secret (AL.com)