Moore, GOP on col­li­sion course

‘ I be­lieve the women , ’ says McCon­nell; new al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct emerge

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Lisa Mas­caro and Nina Agrawal

Amid new al­le­ga­tions that Alabama Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore mo­lested teenage girls decades ago, GOP lead­ers in­ten­si­fied their calls Mon­day for him to quit the race, even threat­en­ing to ex­pel Moore if he wins.

The ac­cu­sa­tions against Moore have thrown the GOP into a cri­sis, splin­ter­ing the party and risk­ing de­feat in the Dec. 12 special elec­tion, in which polls show Demo­crat Doug Jones now has a nar­row lead in the Deep South state.

On Mon­day, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., called on Moore to with­draw from the race. The head of the Repub­li­can cam­paign com­mit­tee, Sen. Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo., said the Se­nate should vote to ex­pel Moore if he is elected by Alabama vot­ers.

“I be­lieve the women,” McCon­nell told re­porters Mon­day in Ken­tucky. “I think he should step aside.”

Four women told The Wash­ing­ton Post that they had been pur­sued by Moore when they were in their teens — one as young as 14 — and he was in his 30s, in a re­port pub­lished last week. The

rev­e­la­tions come as the na­tion is grap­pling with wide­spread claims of sex­ual mis­con­duct at the high­est lev­els of en­ter­tain­ment, me­dia and busi­ness.

An­other Alabama woman stepped for­ward Mon­day, claim­ing Moore tried to force her into a sex­ual po­si­tion when she was 16, af­ter of­fer­ing to give her a ride home from her wait­ress shift in the late 1970s.

Bev­erly Young Nel­son, who turns 56 on Tues­day, said Moore, then a 30-yearold deputy district at­tor­ney in Etowah County, had been a reg­u­lar cus­tomer at the res­tau­rant and of­ten com­pli­mented her on her looks.

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.

“I trusted Mr. Moore be­cause he was the district at­tor­ney,” Nel­son said. “I thought that he was sim­ply do­ing some­thing nice.”

But in­stead of tak­ing her home, 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.

This is the first time Nel­son is dis­clos­ing the al­le­ga­tions pub­licly, though she said she had pre­vi­ously told her sis­ter, mother and husband about her en­counter with Moore.

Moore's Se­nate cam­paign im­me­di­ately dis­missed the new al­le­ga­tions.

“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 vs. Wade, which has re­sulted in the mur­der of tens of mil­lions of un­born ba­bies,” cam­paign chair­man Bill Ar­mis­tead said in a state­ment.

Moore has de­nied any sex­ual mis­con­duct, though ini­tially he ac­knowl­edged dat­ing young women and said he only did so with the per­mis­sion of their moth­ers. Asked last week

if he re­called dat­ing girls as young as 17 dur­ing that time, Moore told Fox's Sean Han­nity: “Not gen­er­ally, no. If I did, you know, I'm not go­ing to dis­pute any­thing, but I don't re­mem­ber any­thing like that.”

That ini­tially weak de­nial led sev­eral GOP sen­a­tors to call for Moore to quit.

Moore so far is stead­fastly re­fus­ing to step aside. He swiftly shot back that it's McCon­nell who should go, echo­ing the views of for­mer Trump ad­viser Stephen Ban­non, who has turned the Alabama Se­nate race into the mar­quee con­test in his emerg­ing bat­tle to take down es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans he views as in­suf­fi­ciently loyal to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's agenda.

“The per­son who should step aside is @Se­nateMa­jLdr Mitch McCon­nell. He has failed con­ser­va­tives and must be re­placed. #DrainTheSwamp,” Moore tweeted.

For many ac­tivists on the con­ser­va­tive right, the race has be­come a ref­er­en­dum on McCon­nell, whom Ban­non wants to top­ple as Se­nate leader.

Be­cause the elec­tion is next month, it is too late un­der state rules to re­move Moore's name from the bal­lot if he de­cides to step aside in the race, which is a special elec­tion to fill the seat held by Jeff Ses­sions, now Trump's at­tor­ney gen­eral.

That leaves Repub­li­cans scram­bling to per­suade state lead­ers to post­pone the elec­tion or con­sider a write-in can­di­date in a long-shot bid to stop Jones' mo­men­tum — or at least block Moore from win­ning.

The top con­tender of­ten men­tioned for the writein cam­paign, Sen. Luther Strange, was ap­pointed to fill Ses­sions' seat ear­lier this year but lost the pri­mary de­spite mil­lions spent by McCon­nell al­lies against Moore. Some have floated hav­ing Ses­sions run for his

old seat.

“We'll see,” McCon­nell said. “That's an op­tion we're look­ing at, whether or not there's some­one who could mount a write-in cam­paign suc­cess­fully.”

Gard­ner said that if Moore is elected, “the Se­nate should vote to ex­pel him, be­cause he does not meet the eth­i­cal and moral re­quire­ments of the United States Se­nate.”

The Na­tional Repub­li­can Se­na­to­rial Com­mit­tee has stopped fund­ing the race.

In many ways, the out­come in Alabama is pre­cisely what McCon­nell sought to avoid by back­ing Strange and play­ing a more force­ful role in pri­mary con­tests ahead of next year's midterm elec­tion.

The Repub­li­can leader wants to pre­vent a re­peat of the 2010 and 2012 elec­tions when can­di­dates who were out­side the main­stream won GOP nom­i­na­tions but failed to win the gen­eral elec­tion.

SPENCER PLATT — GETTY IMAGES

Bev­erly Young Nel­son, left, with lawyer Glo­ria Allred, de­tails sex­ual abuse by Roy Moore.

Moore

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