Woman says Alabama nominee for Senate attacked her in a car and threatened her: 'You are a child. If you tell anyone, no one will believe you'
Another woman has come forward to accuse Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a teenager, as national Republicans continued to flee from the controversial candidate.
Beverly Young Nelson, speaking Monday at a news conference in New York with attorney Gloria Allred, alleged Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.
Nelson said that Moore physically attacked her in a car, grabbing her breasts and trying to force her head down on to his crotch.
"I thought he was going to rape me," said Nelson, who at one point broke down in tears.
Nelson also alleged that the Republican Senate candidate threatened her after the assault. "He then looked at me and said, 'You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. 'If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you."
And she said: "When I got home, I went to my room, and the following morning, my neck was black and blue and purple."
In a statement released shortly before the press conference, Moore called the allegations a "witch hunt". Later, Moore gave a statement to local news: "This is 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."
Nelson had produced her high school yearbook, which Moore signed, and said that the Alabama Republican had been a regular at the restaurant where she worked.
Nelson's statement follows a Washington Post report last week that the Moore had had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued three other teenagers decades earlier when he was in his 30s.
Immediately after the press conference, Cory Gardner, the chair of the National Republican Senate Committee, said that if elected on 12 December, Moore should be expelled from the Senate.
"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. If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate."
His statement followed remarks by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who said earlier on Monday that Moore "should step aside" from the race and added of his accusers: "I believe the women."
In response, Moore said McConnell was "the person who should step aside".
Other Republicans have distanced themselves as well. Senator Ted Cruz withdrew his endorsement of Moore on Monday. "I can't urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true," said the Texas Republican. Among those senators who initially backed Moore, only Rand Paul has yet to withdraw his endorsement.
The toughest comment by a Republican was by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who told reporters Monday: "If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat."
Moore has insisted he will stay in the race. Dean Young, a top adviser to the Alabama Republican, pledged on Monday to the Guardian: "He's going to run, he's going to win and he's going to be seated or there will be in trouble in this nation."
Young viewed the attempt to pressure Moore to step down as a "coup" and described the allegations as "two worlds colliding, elitist Republicans and the establishment which includes the Democrats and the fake news" versus "the good solid people of Alabama".
Homosexuality should be illegal
In 2005, Moore said: "Homosexual conduct should be illegal." In an interview televised on C-Span, Moore added: "It is immoral. It is defined by the law as detestable." During a debate in September 2017, he went out of his way to bemoan the fact that "sodomy [and] sexual perversion sweep the land".
September 11 attacks as divine punishment
In a speech in February, Moore appeared to suggest that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were the result of divine retribution against the United States and prophesized in the Book of Isaiah. In comments first reported by CNN, Moore quoted Isaiah 30:12-13, saying: "Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon ... therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance." Moore then noted: "Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn't it?" He added: "If you think that's coincidence, if you go to verse 25: 'There should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill, rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.'"
Praise for Putin
In an interview with the Guardian in August, Moore praised Putin for his views on gay rights. "Maybe Putin is right. Maybe he's more akin to me than I know." The comments came after Moore suggested the United States could be described as "the focus of evil in the world" because "we promote a lot of bad things". Moore specifically named gay marriage as one of those "bad things".
'Reds and yellows'
At a rally earlier in September, Moore talked about "reds and yellows fighting" while discussing racial division in the United States. Moore justified this on Twitter by citing lyrics from the song Jesus Loves the Little Children. He wrote "Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel."
Tracking livestock is communism
In 2006, Moore condemned a proposal for a national ID system for animals as "more identifiable with communism than free enterprise". The proposal received attention after a cow in Alabama had been diagnosed with mad cow disease. Moore, who was then running for governor, was skeptical that the outbreak was real. Instead, Moore suggested it was a ruse intended to promote the tracking system.
Moore has long been a critic of "establishment Republicans" and told a cheering crowd at an election eve rally in September: "Mitch McConnell needs to be replaced."
McConnell actively supported the appointed incumbent Luther Strange against Moore in the runoff to fill the Senate seat that was vacated by Jeff Sessions' confirmation as attorney general. Strange lost by a margin of 55%-45%.
Doug Jones, Moore's Democratic opponent, said in a short statement to the Guardian: "We applaud the courage of these women. Roy Moore will be held accountable by the people of Alabama for his actions."
Moore told supporters on Sunday night in Huntsville, Alabama that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to see him win on 12 December. The Post story, he said, was "fake news" and "a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign".He also questioned why such allegations would be leveled for the first time so close to the special election, despite his decades in public life.
"Why would they come now? Because there are groups that don't want me in the United States Senate," he said, naming the Democratic party and the Republican establishment and accusing them of working together. He added: "We do not plan to let anybody deter us from this race."
Some Republicans have mooted the idea of Moore stepping aside. However, even if he were to do so, his name would probably remain on the ballot. Any effort to add Strange would probably divide the Republican vote and give the Democratic Doug Jones a greater chance of winning. On Monday morning, the realclearpolitics.com average gave Moore a two-point lead, putting the race in a deep red state into unlikely toss-up territory.
Another possibility suggested by Washington Republicans is that Sessions would run for his old seat and step down as attorney general. However, a source close to Sessions told the Guardian that "he has been telling folks in Alabama he isn't interested".
The White House, pointedly noting that Trump did not back Moore during the primary - after it deleted tweets in support of Strange and made favourable comments about Moore - said the president would probably weigh in when he returned from Asia later this week.
On Air Force One on Saturday Trump referred reporters to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' original statement on Moore, which said he should step aside if the allegations were proven to be true. The president also claimed he did not know about Moore's case because he did "not watch much television".
Trump himself has been accused by least 16 women of sexual misconduct or assault. He has denied the allegations and Sanders said last month all the women were lying.
Moore is an outspoken Christian conservative who has said "homosexual conduct should be illegal" and who claimed the 9/11 attacks were a case of divine retribution. He was removed from the Alabama supreme court in 2003, for refusing to remove a biblical monument from the state judicial building, and in 2016, for refusing to follow the US supreme court ruling that legalised same-sex marriage.
In an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity, Moore did not wholly rule out dating teenage girls when he was in his early 30s.
Asked if that would have been usual for him, he said: "Not generally, no." He added that he did not "remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother".