By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
The list of women accusing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct is growing after a fifth woman came forward Monday, accusing Moore of groping and sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
Beverly Young Nelson, now 56, in a tearful and emotional press conference with her attorney, alleged Moore sexually assaulted her outside of a Gadsden, Alabama, restaurant where she worked as a waitress while she was in high school in 1977.
Nelson, recounting her experience with Moore, said he offered her a ride home from work one night. Moore, at the time, was in his early 30s and a regular customer at the restaurant, where he would compliment her hair and other looks, Nelson said. She said she never invited the attention, which began when she was 15 years old.
Instead of taking her home, Moore pulled around to the back of the restaurant and groped her, Nelson said, against her will, putting his hands on her breasts.
“He parked his car in between the dumpster and the back of the restaurant where there were no lights,” Nelson said. “It was dark, and it was deserted.”
She said she tried to leave, but Moore reached over and locked the door. Moore squeezed her neck and tried to force her head down into his crotch and remove her shirt, she said.
“I thought he was going to rape me,” Nelson said, visibly shaken. “I was twisting, and I was struggling, and I was begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face. At some point, he gave up.”
Nelson lived in Gadsden, Alabama, in Etowah County, where Moore was working as an upstart district attorney. His career in Etowah County would later launch his judicial career that would take him to the top of Alabama’s Supreme Court.
“He said ‘you’re just a child,’ and he said ‘I’m the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you,’” Nelson said, clearly distressed in front of television cameras. Nelson said the next morning, when she woke up, her neck was “black and blue.”
“I did not tell anyone about what had happened,” she said. “I was scared. I felt that if I told anyone that Mr. Moore would do something to me or my family. I decided to keep what happened to myself.”
Nelson is now the first of the accusers to speak directly on television. She said several days before the alleged assault, Moore asked to sign her high school yearbook, which she presented at the press conference Monday.
“To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Christmas 1977. Love Roy Moore DA, 12-22-77 Old Hickory House,” the inscription read. Nelson said she told her mother, younger sister and husband about the alleged assault but has never disclosed it publicly.
He would later go on to become a circuit court judge and serve two unfinished terms as Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. Both times he was removed from the position for defying federal courts.
Nelson said she supported Donald Trump for president in the election last year and “this has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the Republicans or Democrats.”
More and more Republican leaders in Washington are urging him to drop out of the race. He has thus far refused, denying the allegations.
“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,” said his campaign chairman Bill Armistead in a statement before the press conference began. “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.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he believed the women who have accused Moore and said, “I think he should step aside,” according to Politico.
Several other Republican senators, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a conservative leader in the Senate who had endorsed Moore, have called for him to step aside. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, who had also endorsed Moore, announced Monday he was withdrawing his support.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he believes the Senate should expel Moore if he doesn’t drop out of the race and goes on to win.
“I believe the individuals speaking out against Roy Moore spoke with courage and truth, proving he is unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office,” Gardner said. The NRSC, founded in 1916, works to elect Republicans to Congress.
Another prominent conservative senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, also originally endorsed Moore but pulled his endorsement Monday evening after Nelson came forward with her allegations.
So far, Alabama GOP leaders have not urged Moore to step down. Most have remained supportive of Moore, despite the mounting accusations. Alabama GOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan, who has warned party members not to support write-in candidates, did not return a request for comment Monday.
Moore won a September runoff against Sen. Luther Strange, R-Alabama, to become the Republican nominee in a special election scheduled for Dec. 12. Nelson, who is being represented by Gloria Allred, is the fifth woman in recent days to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct or of pursuing them when they were in their teens. She said the other women coming forward gave her the courage to tell her story.
In a bombshell report by the Washington Post last week, Leigh Corfman said Moore pursued her outside of an Etowah County courtroom in 1979 when she was 14 years old and he was 32.
The age of consent in Alabama was then and is now 16 years old.
After speaking with her while her mother went inside for a custody hearing, Moore later picked Corfman up near her home and took her to his country house where he initiated sexual contact with her, she said.
Four other women, ages 16-18, also spoke to the Post on the record. They said Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and one said Moore provided her alcohol. Since the allegations broke earlier this week, locals have come forward to say it was common knowledge Moore pursued young women when he was a district attorney in Etowah County, according to reports from AL.com and The New Yorker.
Moore has denied all of the allegations.