Supporters of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore have seized on an admission by one of his accusers that she added notes to a crucial piece of evidence to question her credibility.
Beverly Young Nelson was 16 when, she alleges, Moore groped her and tried to force her into a sex act in his car. Moore is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls decades ago, including one involving a 14-year-old.
The inscription in Nelson’s 1977 school yearbook reads: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, DA. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House.”
Olde Hickory House was the restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama, where Nelson worked when Moore, in his 30s at the time, allegedly assaulted her. The Senate candidate has denied it is his handwriting, and his campaign has repeatedly called for Nelson to release the yearbook so a handwriting expert can evaluate it.
“He did sign it,” she told ABC News. When interviewer Tom Llamasput put to her, “And you made some notes underneath,” Nelson replied: “Yes.”
Nelson, who said she is a Republican and a Donald Trump supporter, emphasised that the rest of the signature is authentic and that she stands by her allegations. Nevertheless, the interview was quickly pounced on by Moore’s supporters, who have argued that the yearbook signature is forged.
The conservative Breitbart News website responded with the headline:“Beverly Young Nelson has finally admitted that she forged a portion of the infamous high school yearbook that she and attorney Gloria Allred used as proof of her accusations against US Senate candidate Roy Moore.” The website accused ABC News of downplaying the story.
Moore was endorsed by Trump last weekend and is running ahead of Democrat Doug Jones in the pollsahead of Tuesday’s election. Critics have accused the president and senior Republicans of abandoning their principles and putting party ahead of country.
Nelson told Good Morning America: “Is the party more important really than what happened? I feel like my incident is being swept under the rug, literally, because he’s a Republican.”
Nelson, who went public after the Washington Post first reported on other allegations made by four women, added: “It sickens me to wonder what may go on with him if he gets into office.”
She said Moore offered her a ride home after work but instead parked the car and tried to assault her. He told her not tell anyone about the alleged incident, she said.
“He could be doing this still,” Nelson added. “We don’t know. And, then again, I hope that he’s changed. I pray that he’s changed. I really do.”
Moore has repeatedly denied all the accusations. He told supporters last week in Henagar, Alabama: “These allegations are completely false. They’re malicious. Specifically, I do not know any of these women, nor have I ever engaged in sexual misconduct with any woman.”
But Nelson told ABC News that Moore’s comments “really hurt” her and that she hopes for an apology. “God knows and Roy knows that I know what happened. And he will have to answer to that one day,” she said.
After going public with her allegation last month, Nelson added, her children have been threatened and she’s afraid to leave her home. “I’m scared to go anywhere. Shopping, I have to have someone with me.”
Nelson and Allred plan to hold a press conference on Friday. Allred, who has championed victims of sexual harassment, told ABC News: “We’re going to present evidence that we think is important on the issue whether Roy Moore signed the yearbook.”
Trump tweeted on Friday: “LAST thing the Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a Liberal Democrat in Senate where we have so little margin for victory already. The Pelosi/Schumer Puppet Jones would vote against us 100% of the time. He’s bad on Crime, Life, Border, Vets, Guns & Military. VOTE ROY MOORE!”
The president will hold a Friday night rally in Pensacola, Florida, near the Alabama border.