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A fifth woman has come forward to accuse former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual conduct.
Beverly Young Nelson, 55, said Moore, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old high school student working as a waitress in Gadsden, Ala.
Speaking at a news conference in New York, Nelson said Moore was then a 30-year-old deputy district attorney in Etowah County and a regular customer at Olde Hickory House restaurant in Gadsden. He often complimented her on her looks and pulled on the ends of her long, red hair, she said.
Initially, she said, "I did not attach any significance to Mr. Moore's behavior towards me and I did not respond to any of Mr. Moore's flirtatious behavior."
A few days before Christmas in 1977, Nelson said, she brought her high school yearbook into the restaurant and Moore asked if he could sign it. She said yes, and he wrote, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
He signed it, “Love, Roy Moore D.A.,” according to photocopies of the page provided to reporters by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Nelson.
About a week or two later, Nelson said, Moore offered her a ride home. Unable to reach her boyfriend, who was supposed to pick her up, she accepted.
“I trusted Mr. Moore because he was the district attorney,” she said. “I thought that he was simply doing something nice.”
But instead of driving to the highway, Nelson said, Moore drove to the back of the restaurant and began to grope her, putting his hand on her breasts and later squeezing the back of her neck, attempting to force her head toward his crotch.
“I thought that he was going to rape me,” she said. “I was twisting and I was struggling and I was begging him to stop.”
Nelson said he eventually allowed her to open the car door and she either fell out or was pushed out. She said Moore told her that "no one will ever believe you" if she told anyone about what had happened.
Monday was the first time Nelson disclosed the allegations publicly, though she said she had previously told her sister, mother and husband about her encounter with Moore.
Nelson’s remarks follow a report by the Washington Post last week detailing the accounts of four women who say Moore had sexual or romantic encounters with them when they were minors. One of the women was 14 years old at the time.
The allegations have upended the Senate race in Alabama, threatening President Trump's agenda in Congress and leaving Republicans split over how far they’re willing to go to save the seat from a Democrat.
Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor, could be expected to pick up votes from the unfolding controversy, though he has declined to raise the issue in his campaign so far.
Moore's Senate campaign immediately responded to the new allegations, insisting again that all of the reports are unfounded.
"Gloria Allred is a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle. Allred was the attorney who claims credit for giving us Roe v. Wade which has resulted in the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies," campaign chairman Bill Armistead said in a statement.
"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."
Moore has refused to quit the campaign despite mounting political pressure, most recently from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Anticipating claims that her disclosure was politically motivated, Nelson said she and her husband had supported Donald Trump for president.
“This has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats,” she said. “It has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s sexual assault when I was a teenager.”
1:36 p.m.: This post was updated with additional details from the press conference.
12:31 p.m. This post was updated with details of the new accusation.
This post was originally published at 11:32 a.m.