Roy Moore: Woman claims US senate candidate ‘tried to rape me’
A fourth woman has accused Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault as Republicans have increased calls for him to “step aside”.
Beverly Young Nelson told reporters that Mr Moore had tried to force himself on her after offering her a ride home from her job as a waitress.
“I tried fight him off while yelling at him to stop,” she said, adding that he locked his car to prevent her escape.
Mr Moore, 70, denies the allegations, describing them as a “witch hunt”.
However, Top US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said earlier on Monday that he believed the women accusing Mr Moore of inappropriate behaviour.
Mrs Nelson’s accusation comes after three other women detailed allegations of sexual assault by the conservative firebrand while they were teenagers in Alabama.
“I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him,” Mrs Nelson tearfully told reporters in New York, describing how he allegedly drove her to the back of the restaurant car park.
“I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought he was going to rape me.
“I was twisting, and I was struggling and I was begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.
“At some point he gave up and he then looked at me and he told me, ‘You’re just a child,’ and he said, ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County and if you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you”, Mrs Nelson said, adding that her neck was bruised in the struggle.
“He finally allowed me to open the door and I either fell out or he pushed me out.”
She added: “The passenger door was still open as he burned rubber, pulling away, leaving me laying there on this cold concrete in the dark.”
Mr Moore’s wife also vehemently denies the allegations, contending that her husband’s accusers are being paid.
Mr McConnell told reporters in his home state of Kentucky on Monday that party officials were considering whether another Republican could challenge Mr Moore in next month’s election, through a so-called write-in challenge.
He said Luther Strange, whom Mr Moore beat in the Republican primary earlier this year, was a possible option.
Senator Cory Gardner, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, said of Mr Moore on Monday: “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Can Republicans ditch Moore?
No matter what happens between now and the 12 December election, Mr Moore’s name will remain on the voters’ ballot, the Alabama secretary of state has confirmed.
Alabama law prohibits the replacement of a party candidate up to 76 days before the election.
However, voters are free to “write-in” any name they choose and the party might encourage support for another Republican candidate.
The state Republican party could also disqualify Mr Moore’s nomination, meaning that if he won the most votes he would still not be declared the winner.
Failing that, if Mr Moore won the election, the US Senate could vote to expel him by arguing that he lacked fitness to serve.
Last week’s Washington Post story quoted four women by name, including one who alleged Mr Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 – beneath the legal age of consent in Alabama – while he was a prosecutor in his 30s.
Mr Moore has said the Washington Post story is a fabricated smear by his political opponents, calling it “a prime example of fake news”.
Mr McConnell previously said Mr Moore should step aside only if the allegations were proven true.
But on Monday he said flatly: “I believe the women. Yes.”
Mr Moore hit back in a tweet: “The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp”.
He sent out a fundraising email with the subject line: “Mitch McConnell’s plot to destroy me.”
Mr Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative, had been a heavy favourite to win the 12 December election against Democrat Doug Jones.
But an opinion poll after the allegations surfaced suggested the race was tightening. Alabama has not elected a Democratic senator in a quarter of a century.