Thursday, 16 November 2017

Accuser’s Yearbook at Issue in Roy Moore Case

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Gloria Allred, the lawyer for Beverly Young Nelson (the woman who has accused Judge Roy Moore of attempted rape in 1977), is refusing to allow the woman’s high-school yearbook to be examined by a handwriting analyst, as requested by the Moore senatorial campaign.

The yearbook is at issue because Nelson used it to support her accusation that she knew Moore at the time the alleged assault took place. Moore has denied even knowing the woman, as well as the allegation itself. At a news conference on Monday, Nelson offered the yearbook as evidence to support her claims because she alleges it was signed by Moore. Nelson was 16 years old at the time, and asserts that Moore offered to give her ride home from the restaurant where she was working, Old Hickory House. Instead of taking her home, Nelson claims that Moore attempted to get her to perform a sexual act on him in the parking lot.

Some supporters of Moore argued that Old Hickory House did not even exist in Gadsen, Alabama, in 1977, but newspaper advertisements of the time indicate that it did.

But on Wednesday, the Moore campaign called a press conference, demanding that Allred and Nelson allow the yearbook to be subject to handwriting analysis, arguing that the signature does not match that of Moore.

Phillip Jauregui, Moore’s attorney, said, “We demand that you immediately release the yearbook to a neutral custodian, so that we can see the ink on the page, we can see the indentations, and we can see how old is that ink. Is it 40 years old or is it a week old?”

In the press conference, in which Jauregui took no questions, he said that he had known Moore for 24 years and had been in Moore’s presence as he met over 10,000 women and “not once” did Moore “act in an inappropriate manner” with any of them. He added that neither did Moore make any sexually suggestive comments afterward.

Jauregui also charged that Nelson had lied about not having had any contact with Moore since the 1977 alleged incident, noting that Moore was the judge in Nelson’s 1999 divorce case, who signed the order. He suggested that this order was where Nelson obtained a copy of Moore’s signature to use to forge his name in the yearbook. In the divorce decree order, the Moore signature adds “D.A.” after his name. Jauregui said that D.A. were the initials of Judge Moore’s assistant at the time, who would routinely initial the judge’s signature in court documents.

In Nelson’s yearbook, “D.A.” also appears after Moore’s name, with the implication that Moore added those two letters to indicate that he was Etowah County district attorney. Actually, Moore was not the D.A. at the time, but was only an assistant. Nelson explained earlier that she got into the car with Moore because she felt safe with Moore, because he was a district attorney.

“No way in the world” that Moore would write “D.A.” after his signature, Jauregui insisted.

Jauregui asked the yearbook be given to a neutral third party, with a chain of custody, to allow a handwriting expert to draw some conclusions. Drawing some of his own, Jauregui asked the media to note the two "77"s that appear in the yearbook, asserting that they were clearly not written by the same person.

Allred responded to the demand that a neutral third party hold the yearbook, allowing the Moore “expert” to examine it, with a flat refusal. She said that they would only loan the book to a committee of the U.S. Senate, if that body wished to see it before deciding whether to seat Moore, should he win the election.

Appearing on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Allred was asked if the signature could have been forged. Allred responded, “Well, all I’m saying is, we will permit an independent examiner of the writing.... We will allow all of this to be asked and answered at the [Senate] hearing.”

Blitzer shot back, “But that’s not a flat denial, Gloria.”

“Well, all I’m saying is, we’re not denying, we’re not admitting, we’re not addressing. We will not be distracted,” Allred retorted.

At this point, Blitzer wondered why a Senate hearing would be needed, asking why Allred would not just permit an independent expert to take a look. Allred explained, “Well, uh, all I can say is we want it done in a professional setting to the extent possible, that’s the only setting in which people can testify under oath.”

Allred has achieved fame with many high-profile cases over the years, usually with some feminist theme, such as her representation of an 11-year-old girl who wanted to join the Boy Scouts in 1995. She also represented the family of Nicole Brown Simpson during the murder trial of O.J. Simpson that same year.

There are clearly unsettled facts in this case, including in the most serious of the various charges against Moore. And Nelson’s stepson, Darrel Nelson, has even made a public statement via YouTube video saying that his stepmother is lying about Moore.

All of this will need to be sorted out by the voters of Alabama, and an independent analysis of the yearbook appears to be warranted before the people of that state go to the polls next month.

Image: Screenshot of video showing yearbook, released by Youtubia

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