The lawyer for embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore fired back on Wednesday at one of the women accusing Moore of sexual abuse, telling reporters that she is lying.
In accusing Moore of trying to sexually assault her in 1977 when she was 16, Beverly Young Nelson this week offered a key piece of physical evidence — a yearbook that Moore purportedly signed at the restaurant where she worked.
The yearbook seemed to establish that Moore and Nelson knew each other during the time period that the alleged assault occurred. But attorney Phillip Jauregui told reporters in Birmingham on Wednesday that Moore flatly denies writing the passage. He demanded that Nelson’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, turn over the yearbook to a third-party custodian so that a handwriting expert can examine it and — perhaps more importantly — allow an expert to test the age of the ink.
“Release the yearbook so that we can determine: Is it genuine, or is it a fraud?” Jauregui said.
Allred later told CNN that she would be willing to accede to the request as long as the Senate Judiciary Committee or the Senate Ethics Committee convene a hearing in the next two weeks and subpoena Moore.
The passage in the yearbook states: “To a sweeter, more beautiful girl, I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Christmas 1977 Love, Roy Moore D.A. 12/22/77. Olde Hickory House.”
Jauregui urged people to look at “Olde Hickory House” on the page.
“Judge Moore says there is no way in the world that’s his handwriting. And I want you to look at it,” he said. “Look at some other writing of his and make your own determination. That’s what our expert will be doing, but for now, I’m asking you all to take a look. Use your own judgment.”
The attorney also directed reporters’ attention to the suffix at the end of Moore’s signature — DA. The presumption has been that Moore signed his name that way because he was the district attorney of Etowah County at the time. But he was not the district attorney; he was an assistant district attorney.
Jauregui said Moore’s judicial assistant, when he later served as a judge in the county, used to stamp his signature and then place her own initials — “DA.” — next to it on legal documents. Jauregui also provided reporters with copies of court documents showing that Moore was the judge who presided over Nelson’s divorce case in 1999.
The lawyer suggested that Moore’s role in her divorce case undercuts Nelson’s claim that she had no contact with him after the attempted assault. He made a challenge to Allred about whether she still maintains Moore wrote the passage.
“That’s not an allegation,” Jauregui said. “That’s a question.”
The news conference comes at a time that Republican leaders across the country are demanding that Moore drop out of the race. But many Alabama Republicans are sticking with him. On Tuesday, the Republican Party Executive Committee in the 5th Congressional District in north Alabama voted to express support for Moore.
Bill Armistead, Moore’s campaign chairman, said the campaign is doing its best to respond to allegations about events nearly 40 years old.
“This is a campaign, so you can expect most anything to come out, but you know we can’t just stand by idly and let false charges go without answering,” he said.
Jauregui said the campaign is not ready to respond to every allegation made by the four other women named in a story by The Washington Post last week.
“We don’t have a $20 million budget as a campaign,” he said. “It takes time. And we want to be correct.”
The attorney, who ran Moore’s successful campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000, said he has been with the former judge at about 100 meetings and has watched him around, perhaps, 10,000 women.
“Not once — not one time — have I ever seen him act even remotely inappropriate against any woman, toward any woman.”
Jauregui said the allegations against Moore have been “incredibly, incredibly painful” for his family.
“You know, in these types of cases, there’s always someone who’s alleging and the other person,” he said. “And in those cases, when it’s true, it’s horrible for the person making the allegations. But when the allegations are made and it’s not true, it’s also horrible for the person who those allegations are made against.”