“I was terrified,” Alabama resident Beverly Young Nelson said through tears, at a Thursday afternoon press conference with her lawyer, Gloria Allred. “I thought he was going to rape me,” she said, recounting the night when she claims Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her outside of an Etowah County restaurant, when she was 16 years old.
Nelson said that she first met Moore when she was 15-years-old, during her waitressing shifts at the Old Hickory House restaurant where Moore was a regular customer. “He sat at the counter at the same seat night after night,” Nelson said. “Mr. Moore was an adult, he was much older than I was, I knew that he was the district attorney in Etowah County.” Moore, she said, flirted with her during her shifts, even though she was 15. She added that she had no interest in Moore and did not respond to “his flirtatious behavior.” Still, Moore persisted, complimenting her looks, pulling her hair, and even signing her yearbook.
Nelson alleges that Moore sexually assaulted her after her sixteenth birthday. She said that on one evening after her shift ended, Moore offered her a ride home. Since her ride home was late and she lived close-by Nelson accepted the offer. “I trusted Mr. Moore because he was the district attorney,” she said. “I thought he would get on the highway, instead he drove to the back of the restaurant [...] he stopped the car and he parked his car in between the dumpster and the back of the restaurant where there were no lights. The area was dark and it was deserted. I was alarmed and immediately asked him what he was doing. Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and groped me, putting his hand on my breast,” Nelson said.
When she tried to escape from the car, Nelson alleges that Moore prevented her from leaving. “[I] tried fighting him off while yelling at him to stop,” Nelson said. She said that Moore refused to stop and instead, squeezed her neck and “tried to force my head onto his crotch.” “I was terrified,” Nelson said, “I thought he was going to rape me.” The alleged assault ended when Nelson was either pushed or fell from the car. She said that afterwards, she had bruises on her neck, which she covered with makeup. Nelson said that Moore threatened her, telling her that no one would believe her since “you’re just a child and I’m the DA of Etowah County.”
Prior to Nelson’s statement, Gloria Allred said that Nelson’s story had been confirmed by her mother, sister, and husband. On behalf of her client, Allred called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Moore, saying that Nelson was willing to testify before a committee and recount her allegations under oath.
Nelson is the second woman to accuse Moore of sexual assault and the fifth woman to allege that Moore pursed her romantically when she was a teenager. Last week, the Washington Post published allegations that Moore sexually assaulted Leigh Corfman in 1979, when she was 14. Moore has repeatedly denied the accusations, and his candidacy has left the Republican party bitterly divided. Last week, Moore’s supporters turned to citing the Bible to defend his actions, treating his interactions with Corfman as a consensual relationship. Republican leadership treated the allegations with rhetorical ambivalence: “If the allegations are true, he must step aside,” Mitch McConnell said last week. Over the weekend, Axios reported that the Steve Bannon-helmed site Breitbart News had sent reporters to Alabama, “to discredit the Washington Post’s reporting on Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct with teenagers.” Though Breitbart’s decision was surely meant to prevent more women from coming forward, today Nelson spoke about being inspired by the women in the Post’s story.
Prior to Nelson’s press conference, Moore sent out a statement calling the latest allegations a “witch hunt.” Moore, as well as his supporters, have intimated that the allegations are the result of partisan politics. Both Corfman and Nelson, however, have denied that claim. Corfman confirmed to the Post that she was a long-time Republican supporter. Today, Nelson reiterated Corfman’s point. “My husband and I supported Donald Trump. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Democrats or Republicans. This has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s assault on me as a teenager,” Nelson said today.
Earlier today, McConnell abandoned Moore, calling on him to drop out of the race. “I believe the women,” McConnell said today. McConnell’s response was echoed by National Republican Senate Committee Chair Corey Gardner who, shortly after Nelson’s press conference, released a statement describing Moore as “unfit to serve in the United States Senate.” “He should not run for office,” Gardner’s statement continued, “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him.” Moore, however, remains committed to remaining in the race. A recent poll shows him ten points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones.
Update, 7:20 p.m.: During a press conference on Monday evening, Roy Moore denied Nelson’s allegations, calling them “absolutely false.” “I never did what she said I did. 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,” Moore said. After he spoke, Moore’s wife Kayla spoke, also calling the allegations “false.” Moore refused to respond to answer a question about whether or not he would testify under oath.