A new accuser Monday told reporters that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore groped her and tried to pull off her shirt a short time after Christmas 1977 when she was 16.
Beverly Young Nelson, appearing with famed lawyer Gloria Allred, became the second woman to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct during the 1970s, when he was a prosecutor in Etowah County, Alabama. Leigh Corfman, now 53, told The Washington Post in a story last week that Moore undressed her when she was 14. Three other women also spoke on the record to The Post, claiming that Moore dated or tried to date them when they were teenagers but over the legal age of consent.
On Monday, Nelson described an attempted sexual assault after she accepted his offer for a ride home from Hickory House, the restaurant for which she worked, where Moore was a regular customer. Instead of turning on to the highway, she said, Moore pulled between two dumpsters behind the restaurant.
"The area was dark and it was deserted," she said, appearing to struggle to maintain composure. "I was alarmed, and I immediately asked him what he was doing. Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me and putting his hands on my breasts."
Nelson said Moore locked the door, squeezed her neck and tried to force her head to his crotch.
"I was terrified," she said. "He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting, and I was struggling, and I was begging him to stop."
Eventually, Nelson said, Moore did stop and sped off, leaving her alone in the dark parking lot. Before leaving, she said, he told her no one would believe her if she said what had happened.
The Moore campaign immediately fired back, issuing a statement dismissing the allegations as a "witch hunt" and promised the Republican nominee for Senate would be vindicated.
"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 v. Wade, which has resulted in murder of tens of millions of unborn babies," the statement read. "We've said this before and we'll say it again: Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. This is a witch hunt against a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character."
Nelson is the first accuser to speak on camera and promises to add more controversy to the race to fill a Senate seat once held by Jeff Sessions, who resigned this year to become attorney general.
Calls are growing for Moore to drop out of the race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added his name to that chorus on Monday, telling reporters in his home state that he believed the women quoted in the Post story. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who heads the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that the Senate should take the rare step of expelling Moore should he win the December 12 special election.
In Alabama, though, it is far from clear that the allegations are having the same effect that they are nationally. An Emerson College poll released Monday  and conducted after the Post story showed that Moore maintains a lead of 10 percentage points over Democrat Doug Jones. Jonathan Gray, a pollster and Republican strategist, said his firm will poll Alabama voters Monday night. But he predicted that Allred's involvement would backfire.
"I think that's actually going to hurt their fight," he told LifeZette. "I think that helps Moore … I wouldn't be shocked to find out the Moore campaign paid to bring her down here."
At the news conference, Allred addressed the inevitable charges of political motivation. She noted that even though she is a Democrat, she represented a former San Diego city employee whose lawsuit prompted Democratic Mayor Bob Filner to resign. Allred said she also spoke out against former President Bill Clinton's affair with a White House intern and former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner's inappropriate texting habits.
"When it comes to injustices, it makes no difference to me whether a politician is a Democrat or a Republican," she said.
Allred said her client is willing to testify under oath and called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing and invite Moore to do the same.
Nelson said that she and her husband both voted for President Donald Trump.
"This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Republicans or the Democrats," she said.
Nelson said she told her younger sister about the incident two years later, and they spoke frequently about it over the years. She said she told her mother about it four years ago and that she confided in her husband before they married. She said she quit her job at Hickory House after the incident and never went back there again.
Nelson told reporters that she had been afraid of Moore but decided to come forward publicly because the women in the Post story inspired her.
"I am coming forward today to let Moore know that he no longer has any power over me, and I no longer live in fear of him," she said.
Allred showed reporters a copy of Nelson's high school yearbook to lend credibility to her story. She said Moore signed it just before Christmas 1977: "To a sweeter, more beautiful girl, I could not say 'Merry Christmas.' Christmas 1977 Love, Roy Moore DA 12/22/77. Old Hickory House."
Nelson said the alleged assault occurred a week or two later.
Gray said it is doubtful how much impact the new accuser will have on hardening views among Alabama voters.
"You just blew up a bomb in Roy Moore's face, and he's still alive," he said. "This has not flipped the football field."