The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore gained heightened intensity on Monday afternoon as a fifth woman stepped forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, this time involving a physical assault that occurred in the late 1970s when she was 16.
Standing before a sea of microphones and flashbulbs, Beverly Young Nelson, a 55-year-old self-identified Trump supporter, recalled through tears a night four decades ago during which she alleged Moore locked her in his car as she struggled against his sexual advances. Parked in a "dark and deserted" area behind a restaurant, Nelson said Moore "reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts."
"I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop," she continued, "but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch." After "twisting and struggling and begging him to stop," Nelson claimed Moore "gave up" and told her, "You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you."
Even after considering potential defenses of Moore — the timing is suspicious, he's despised by the coastal media, the stories are decades old, Gloria Allred is not credible — it's hard to discount Nelson's story, which was relayed with vivid detail through obvious emotional pain.
Two people on this Earth know what really happened that night, and one of them provided a specific account down to Moore's shoes, the doors on his car, the exact location of the alleged assault between a dumpster and the road. The other maintains he "never did what she said I did."
"I don't even know the woman. I don't know anything about her," Moore responded.
After Leigh Corfman alleged in a bombshell Washington Post report published last week that Moore touched her inappropriately as a 14-year-old girl, many of the candidate's allies have rushed to dismiss the accusations against him, which also included accounts from three other women who said he sought relationship with them in their late teens while he was in his 30's.
For his part, Moore has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, claiming on Friday he has "never engaged in sexual misconduct" and couldn't "recall dating any girl without the permission of her mother." The judge has discounted Corfman's allegation as "fake news," and chalked the reports up to a conspiracy orchestrated by Democrats and establishment Republicans anxious about his potential ascension to the upper chamber.
But on Monday afternoon, Moore's situation went from bad to worse.
I understand why Moore's supporters trust him over the media, which has spent decades burning its credibility by unfairly attacking conservatives. “A lot of people here won’t believe anything the Washington Post prints,” former Alabama state representative Steve Flowers told Politico.
But Nelson's story is different. This time, she spoke straight to the public, effectively cutting the media out of the equation. Her account was delivered directly to the cameras, raw and unfiltered by the biases of reporters and editors. Nelson's decision to come forward means the battle can no longer be reduced to a fight between Moore and the liberal media.
Now, even if one insists on dismissing media reports, it's Nelson's detailed personal memory against Moore's categorical denial. We'll see which prevails.