Tuesday is Beverly Young Nelson’s birthday.
On the eve of turning 56, she took a trip to New York City, but it wasn’t a celebratory journey. She shuffled wordlessly into the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on Monday with controversial attorney Gloria Allred beside her, and she read haltingly through a statement describing her account of incidents in Alabama four decades ago.
Her 16th birthday hadn’t come yet when she said she met Roy Moore. She was working after school as a waitress at the Old Hickory House off Highway 431 in Gadsden. She said Moore was a regular. He flattered her, complimented her looks. Sometimes, she said, he’d pull on the ends of her long red hair as she walked by. Just normal stuff for a district attorney.
She turned 16 and a few months later, he signed her high school yearbook, she said. A few weeks after that, he offered her a ride home on a cold night but pulled over next to a trash bin. Nelson said he reached over and groped her, tried to force her head down to his crotch.
She was crying, as she told the story in public on Monday, becoming the fifth woman to have accused the Senate candidate of sexual misconduct. Moore denies the claims.
The other four stories were published last week in a bombshell Washington Post report that included more than 30 sources. There was, for example, the then-14-year-old who said Moore drove her to his house in the woods, where he allegedly took off her clothes and touched her.
The number of Republican leaders withdrawing support for Moore expanded by Monday. They could have made that decision months ago, sometime after Moore said homosexuality should be illegal, or that 9/11 was a consequence of atheism, or that Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim congressman, shouldn’t be allowed to sit in that body because of his religion. Maybe the problem was that his opponent was such a questionable character, too: Democrat Doug Jones, a guy who prosecuted Klan members in the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young black girls.
But maybe Nelson’s story was turning the tide for “mainstream” Republicans opposing Moore. We’ll see how that plays out on the Dec. 12 election in Alabama, where far-right conservatives are digging in.
Nelson was far away from that all on Monday, in a hotel suite decorated with art books, soft lighting, animal-head art busts, and a crowd of journalists waiting to see her. The only hints of home were the signed yearbook and the oversize portrait drawn of Nelson at Six Flags when she was about 16, her lawyer said, many birthdays ago.
Nelson said she never saw Moore in person after the incident. She quit her job at the restaurant. She told only some of those close to her, including her husband who was with her on Monday in New York.
Moore immediately called the accusations part of a “witch hunt,” continuing the theme that these allegations are coming out now for political purposes. Nelson, however, said she and her husband supported Donald Trump for President, a candidate who had his own string of sexual assault accusers and whose gold trim tower was blocks away from the suite where she sat.
“This has nothing to do with the Republicans or the Democrats. It has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s sexual assault when I was a teenager,” she said.
It didn’t look like an easy birthday for Nelson, facing the cameras far from Alabama. But she came to media-heavy New York to tell the story. Another account, another woman.