NEW YORK – An Alabama woman on Monday accused Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama's open Senate seat, of sexually assaulting her and bruising her neck in the late 1970s when she was 16 years old.
This new allegation follows an extensive report published Thursday by The Washington Post that detailed allegations that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. The story also described his relationship with three other girls who were between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time. Moore has denied the allegations.
Beverly Young Nelson, now 55, said Monday that she got to know Moore, now 70, in the late 1970s when she was a waitress at the Old Hickory House restaurant in the northeastern Alabama town of Gadsden, where Moore lived for much of his life.
Nelson said at a news conference at a New York hotel that Moore, then the district attorney of Etowah County, was a regular at the restaurant and would sometimes compliment her looks or touch her long red hair. She showed a copy of her high school yearbook that she said Moore signed Dec. 22, 1977, with the inscription: "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say 'Merry Christmas.' "
On a cold night about a week or two after that, Nelson alleges, Moore offered to give her a ride home from work after her shift ended at 10 p.m. Instead of taking her home, Nelson said, Moore pulled the two-door car into a dark and deserted area between a dumpster and the back of the restaurant.
When she asked what he was doing, Nelson alleges that Moore put his hands on her breasts and began groping her. When she tried to open the car door and leave, Nelson said, he reached over and locked the door. When she yelled at him to stop and tried to fight him off, she alleges that he tightly squeezed the back of her neck and tried to force her head toward his lap. He also tried to pull her shirt off, she said.
"I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified," Nelson said during the news conference, often becoming emotional as she described the attack that she alleges occurred about 40 years ago. "I thought that he was going to rape me."
Bill Armistead, the chairman of Moore's Senate campaign, denied Nelson's accusations in a statement Monday afternoon and accused her attorney, Gloria Allred, of being "a sensationalist leading a witch hunt."
Nelson is the fifth woman to publicly accuse Moore of pursuing her when she was a teenager.
"We've said this before and we'll say it again: Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. This is a witch hunt against a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character," Armistead said in the statement. "Let it be understood: The truth will come forward, we will pursue all legal options against these false claims and Judge Moore will be vindicated."
At the news conference in New York, Nelson said that during the incident, she kept fighting Moore, with tears rolling down her face, and he eventually stopped. She says that he then told her: "You're just a child and I'm the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.'" Nelson said she then fell or was pushed out of the car.
"The passenger door was still open as he burned rubber pulling away, leaving me laying there on the cold concrete in the dark," Nelson said.
She said that her neck was "black and blue and purple" the next day. She said she quit her job at the restaurant so that she would not have to see Moore again.
About two years after the alleged incident, Nelson said she told her sister what had happened. She also said she told her husband of 13 years, John Nelson, before they got married and also told her mother about four years ago.
Allred, a women's rights attorney who has represented victims of sexual assault or abuse in high-profile cases, said that Nelson reached out to her and that her law firm has interviewed Nelson's relatives. Allred said that Nelson wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to call a hearing within the next two weeks and petition Moore to testify about the incident under oath. She added that Nelson is not considering any civil or criminal options at this time.
Nelson said that she always assumed that she was the only woman who had this sort of experience with Moore. The Washington Post report published last week featured four women who said Moore pursued a relationship with them when they were teenagers. Leigh Corfman told The Post that Moore took her to his home in early 1979, where he kissed her, touched her and took her clothes off; she was 14 at the time, and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
None of the four women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore's Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls.
Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don't know one another.
Nelson said that the courage of these women prompted her to speak out.
"My husband and I supported Donald Trump for president. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Republicans or the Democrats. It has everything to do with Mr. Moore's sexual assault when I was a teenager," Nelson said. "Mr. Moore attacked me when I was a child, and I did nothing to deserve his sexual attack."
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that he believes the women who have accused Moore and called on Moore to end his Senate campaign. While other GOP lawmakers have called on Moore to step down, McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican in Washington to do so.
Moore has shown no signs that he is preparing to bow out of the race.