Amid a call by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore to withdraw from the special election in Alabama in response to allegations of sexual misconduct by four women, a fifth woman has come forward, according to celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
Allred – a Democrat known for representing women who make sexual-assault claims against prominent figures – introduced Beverly Young Nelson at a news conference in Madison, New York. She said Nelson alleges Moore “sexually assaulted her when she was a minor in Alabama.”
Nelson said she didn’t speak out previously because she feared Moore and his power but was inspired by the others coming forward.
Moore is the Republican nominee in a special election Dec. 12 for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Polls show Moore’s significant lead has evaporated in the wake of the allegations, with some showing him behind and others with a narrow lead over Democratic nominee Doug Jones.
Last week, the Washington Post cited four women who claimed the former judge dated them when he was in his 30s and they were teens, with one charging he initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14.
Moore has called the allegations reported by the Post “completely false and a desperate political attack.”
Allred said that within two years, Nelson told her sister of the alleged abuse. Nelson’s mother, according to Allred, was told of the allegation only four years ago.
Allred, who said Nelson reached out to her, said the accuser is willing to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which the lawyer said should subpoena her. The lawyer said that if the Senate does not hold a hearing within two weeks, Nelson will agree to interviews with the media.
Nelson read a statement at the news conference in which she said that when she was 16, Moore was a regular customer at a restaurant where she was an employee.
At the time Moore was the district attorney for Etowah County in Alabama, she said.
Nelson said Moore regularly flirted with her, and she did not respond to him, noting she had a boyfriend. On one night in 1977, when she was waiting for her boyfriend after finishing a shift, she claimed, Moore offered to give her a ride home, because her boyfriend was late.
She claimed Moore stopped the car behind the restaurant and sexually assaulted her.
Nelson said Moore “no longer has any power over me and I no longer live in fear of him.”
Moore: McConnell should step aside
Earlier this morning, McConnell spoke to reporters about the Alabama race at a tax event Monday.
“I think he should step aside,” he said.
And he told WLKY in Louisville he believes the women who are accusing Moore.
Moore immediately responded to McConnell in a tweet.
“The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell,” Moore said. “He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp.”
With a little more than four weeks before the special election, Moore’s name cannot be removed from the ballot. The state law requires 76 days notice. But Republicans could launch a write-in campaign, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has the authority to postpone the election.
McConnell told WLKY a write-in campaign “is an option we are looking at.”
But the Senate leader did not commit to the candidate being Luther Strange, the interim incumbent appointed by Alabama’s previous Republican governor.
“We’ll see,” McConnell said.
Republican analysts view the Moore candidacy as a proxy battle between the party establishment, represented by McConnell, and former White House chief strategist Steven Bannon. Bannon has supported Moore in his effort to challenge incumbent Republicans with candidates who will carry out President Trump’s agenda.
Bannon has said that until there is more evidence, he’s standing with Moore.
Speaking at a fundraiser in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Bannon compared the Post’s report on Moore to the infamous Access Hollywood tape that was leaked during the 2016 presidential election.
“The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump, is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now is that a coincidence?” Bannon said.
“That’s what I mean when I say opposition party, right? It’s purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don’t make any bones about it. By the way, I don’t mind it. I’ll call them out every day.”
In a radio interview with Sean Hannity Friday, Moore, adamantly denied the allegation by Leigh Corfman that Moore, at the age of 32, engaged in sexual touching when she was 14. But Moore left open the possibility that he dated the older teens, saying he didn’t remember, before unequivocally stating he did not date any teens when he was in his 30s when Hannity asked for clarification.
Along with McConnell, Republican leaders such as former governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Ohio governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich, have called for Moore to step down.
Romney and Kasich have never been Moore supporters, but the former Alabama chief justice lost key allies in Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Steve Daines, R-Mont., who withdrew their endorsements.
“Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the US Senate,” Lee wrote in a tweet.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee backed out of a joint fundraising effort with Moore because of the allegations, according to Federal Election Commission documents filed Friday.