One of Roy Moore’s accusers has produced what her lawyer says is evidence she and Moore met: A yearbook that Moore’s accuser Beverly Young Nelson says Moore signed back in the 1970s. Moore, the embattled but defiant Republican running for U.S. Senate in Alabama, has tried to make the yearbook the cornerstone of his argument that he’s being falsely accused.
Specifically, Moore and his attorney argue that the yearbook passage and signature were forged, and they have demanded that Nelson’s controversial and Democratically aligned lawyer, Gloria Allred, produce the yearbook so it can be examined by an independent handwriting analyst.
On December 8, Moore’s accuser admitted “she added the time and place” to the yearbook inscription, but her attorney claimed a handwriting expert confirmed the signature was Moore’s.
Thus far, though, Allred has not agreed to produce the yearbook for neutral experts to examine without conditions being met. The candidate has taken to Twitter to repeatedly hammer away at this point. “I never did what she said I did,” Moore has insisted. “I don’t even know the woman. I don’t know anything about her.”
On November 18, Moore tweeted, “Good morning, Alabama! Day 4 of New York attorney Gloria Allred’s refusal to turn over her fake yearbook for third party examination.#ALSen.” On the Internet, people sharing and scrutinizing photos of the yearbook inscription insist it’s a fake in armchair Web analysis, focusing on such things as the differences in how the number 7 is constructed, and a CNN photo that appears to show the inscription was written in two different colors of ink (see that photo later in this article). Handwriting experts say it’s impossible to tell without studying the actual document.
What’s the evidence? Is the Roy Moore yearbook signature forged? Is it possible to tell with simply a photocopy? What has Allred specifically said on the topic? What has Moore? Of course, Nelson’s accusations are only one of a string of accusations that multiple women have made against Moore (eight in all); for example, another woman, Leigh Corfman, has accused Moore of having sexual contact with her when she was 14 and Moore was a prosecutor in his 30s. The other allegations are not related to the yearbook. Moore, a Republican running for Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones, has denied all of the accusations.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Roy Moore & His Attorney Say the Yearbook Is Forged & They’ve Demanded Access to It
Roy Moore and his attorney have increasingly focused on the yearbook. The attorney, Phil Jauregui, demanded that Nelson “release the yearbook so tests could be conducted,” reports CNN. The contested inscription in the yearbook reads:
“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.”
“We’ll find out: is it genuine, or is it a fraud?” Jauregui said, reported CNN, adding that the lawyer revealed that “Moore’s campaign had hired a handwriting expert to examine the inscription.” However, Allred won’t hand over the yearbook. She is demanding a Senate Judiciary investigation and hearing as a condition to its release.
In an open letter to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Moore wrote in part of the yearbook: “Those initials as well as the date under the signature block and the printed name of the restaurant are written in a style inconsistent with the rest of the yearbook inscription. The ‘7’s’ in ‘Christmas 1977’ are in a noticeably different script than the ‘7’s’ in the date ’12-22-77.’ I believe tampering has occurred.”
According to Fox News, Allred said on November 15 “that she would give the book to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s handwriting expert if the GOP-led panel chooses to have hearings on the matter.” That would propel Moore to speak under oath about the matter; he and his lawyer have indicated no desire to do so, especially since Moore, a former judge and prosecutor in Alabama, is not in the U.S. Senate (the election is December 12.)
“Does the Roy Moore campaign seriously contend that 40 years ago Ms. Nelson had someone sign her yearbook as Roy Moore District Attorney?” Allred challenged. “We have little doubt as to the outcome of that inquiry.”
2. Allred Stopped Short of Definitively Saying That Nelson Saw Moore Sign the Yearbook
When Wolf Blitzer asked Gloria Allred on CNN whether she could flatly say the signature was not a forgery, Allred did not directly answer the question. You can watch the exchange in the video above. “Can you say flatly to our viewers right now, Gloria that the signature, what he wrote in that yearbook in 1977 according to her, can you say flatly that was not a forgery?” Blitzer asked the celebrity lawyer.
“Well, all I am saying is we will permit an independent examiner of the writing to look at exemplars of former judge twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, judge on account of ethical violations, according to the ethics committee in that state, we will allow of this to be asked and answered at the hearing,” said Allred.
“But that’s not a flat denial, Gloria,” Blitzer responded, and Allred then answered, “Well it’s it’s, all I am saying is we are not denying, we are not admitting, we are not addressing. We will not be distracted, and we will pursue a just result for our client.”
Blitzer pressed on. “But why do you need a Senate hearing on this? Why not just permit an independent handwriting examiner to go back and look at the yearbook and see if it’s genuine that signature or a forgery?” he asked. Allred responded, “Well, all I can say is that we want it done in a professional setting to the extent possible. That’s the only setting in which people can testify under oath. That’s what we think is most important. And I think very reasonable on our part to want to have this addressed and to say we will submit it at that time should such a hearing be held.”
Gloria Allred has made other somewhat cryptic comments when pressed on the yearbook signature by television hosts. Moore shared one of those video interviews on his Twitter page (see above.) For example, an MSNBC anchorwoman pressed Allred on whether her client, Nelson, had actually seen Moore sign the yearbook. “She remembers his…well, she remembers being with him. It was on the counter; she alleges that he took it, that he signed it, and she was thrilled that he had signed it because as far as she knew he was a DA, and that was an important position. I don’t think at the time she had a clue whether he was an assistant DA or a DA. But he signed it. She took it. As far as she knows, I mean there’s no reason for her to think it’s anything but his signature,” Allred said.
But did she see him sign it? the anchorwoman asked. Allred responded: “You know, I don’t -I-I haven’t asked her if she saw him, but we did describe what happened that evening in question. That what she alleges was, that she put it on the counter, that I think that he asked to si- or that he did sign it. That’s all.”
The anchorwoman responded, “I ask this because it seems like you’re not 100 percent sure that it is his signature, and if you’re not 100 percent sure that it is his signature, why would you show it at a press conference?” Allred answered, “Well, why would, why does anyone doubt that it’s not his signature?”
Allred was asked, “If independent analysis shows that that is not his signature, does that disprove your client’s allegations?” Allred responded: “No, it doesn’t. And that’s a hypothetical that I have no reason to believe would happen that it’s not his signature.” She then challenged Moore to answer questions about Nelson’s claims under oath before the Senate.
3. On Social Media, People Are Scrutinizing Everything From Ink Color to Printing Style
On social media, Moore supporters are analyzing photocopies and photos of the yearbook page with the inscription. One photo that many people are puzzling over was a photo shared initially by CNN (see above) that appears to show that part of the inscription was written in blue ink, whereas the rest of it was written in black ink. Other photos of the yearbook from the press conference do not show the blue-black ink mystery. Others have noted that Nelson’s red nail polish also looks like a different shade in the CNN photo than it does in other pictures.
Twitter is awash with comments like these below as people share web analysis of the inscription and signature. One of the most popular theories on the Internet is that the yearbook inscription is real down to the words Love Ray or Roy, with someone adding the rest to make the whole thing more implicating. The website Cowger Nation wrote that it had pinpointed 12 anomalies.
Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla, shared a conservative website’s story alleging forgery. That article, by Gateway Pundit, is built on the Twitter analysis of a controversial man named Thomas Wictor who has alleged photo faking before and theorized that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock accidentally shot himself. He was harshly critical of some conservatives in the wake of Charlottesville. This is the thread that got people talking:
In a post on YouTube suspending Wictor’s account in the past, the conservative Breitbart wrote, “He’s a Venezuelan-born recluse with a rich and varied past who, besides being the world’s greatest (and only) expert on World War I flamethrowers, also happens to produce some of the most fascinating Twitter threads and social media video commentary you will ever see on subjects ranging from Antifa to Pallywood to what’s really going on in Syria and Iraq. Some of his output is so kooky and recondite that, quite possibly, it strays into the realm of conspiracy theory. But with Wictor you can never be quite sure because his exposition is so thorough and well-documented.” He is, in fact, the author of a book on German flamethrowing pioneers.
The key arguments by Moore supporters alleging forgery include: the two-colored ink photo; “Ole Hickory House” being written in a printed style that people believe doesn’t match known recent copies of Moore’s printing style; the difference in how the 7s are written in the yearbook; the fact that Moore was a deputy DA but not the actual DA; differences in how letters are constructed in recent examples of Moore’s signature when compared to the yearbook; questions about why anyone would sign a yearbook in December and why the person would write the date more than one time; whether the signature says Ray instead of Roy; and other purported anomalies. Others are less than convinced. The blog Caffeinated Thoughts countered, “They compare the 7s in reference to 1977 in Moore’s note with the seven below his name. Nobody has reported ’12-22-77 Olde Hickory House’ to be part of his note, have they? The date underneath Moore’s signature could have been added by someone else as a reference. I think the ‘analyst’ made an assumption here.”
Moore’s lawyer has said that Moore doesn’t sign DA after his signature, but, rather, that, in divorce documents signed by Moore in a much later case involving Nelson, Moore’s assistant put the initials DA after his signature. The theory by Moore supporters is that the later divorce documents formed the basis for a purported forgery with the purported forger mistakenly thinking the DA was how Moore typically signed his signature when it is not. Moore’s attorney has pointed out that Nelson said she had not had contact with Moore since the 1977 alleged encounter, yet Moore signed court documents relating to her divorce case (Allred has said that Nelson never actually saw Moore during that case).
“Jauregui claimed that the ‘D.A.’ next to Moore’s name were the initials of his assistant at the time, a sign that the assistant had actually stamped Moore’s signature,” reported The Hill.
4. Handwriting Analysts Say It’s Impossible to Assess the Yearbook Without Actually Seeing it
News outlets have asked independent handwriting analysts whether they can tell if the Moore signature and inscription are indeed forgeries. They’ve told news outlets that it’s impossible to tell without a detailed analysis of the actual yearbook, as well as numerous handwriting samples from Moore dating back to the 1970s. Part of the problem is that people on the Internet are comparing more recent versions of Moore’s writing to something he is alleged to have written in 1977, and people’s handwriting can change over time. Of course, because Allred has not produced the yearbook, an independent analysis that would include such older samples is not currently underway.
NBC News was one of the news outlets to contact handwriting experts. “Experts made it clear that they would need to compare it to other writing samples,” the network reported, adding, “Verification would also require doing things like testing the ink and subjecting the writing to a microscopic examination to be able to say with certainty that this is the Moore’s John Hancock or a forgery, the experts said.”
“What a true forensic examiner will do is look at as many samples as possible from as broad a time period as possible,” Steven Drexler, a retired handwriting expert/document examiner from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, said to NBC News. “Everybody’s writing changes over time.” Mark Songer, a former FBI agent who is a Denver forensic document examiner, told NBC that “he too couldn’t say with certainty that the supposed Moore signature in the yearbook was authentic.”
“Under microscopic examination you can actually see the line quality from the writing instrument, whether there is any hesitation which could be an indication of unnatural writing,” he said to NBC News. The Washington Post also spoke to Songer and reported, “To evaluate whether a questioned signature is your signature, a document examiner would need a lot of other examples of your signature (Songer said he would need five to 10) to have enough evidence to determine whether the questioned signature was valid. For other handwriting, like the rest of the inscription, he would need much more: other examples of your known writing (that is, things proven to have been written by you) that would allow him to evaluate individual words and sentences.”
FiveThirtyEight notes that even if experts could examine the yearbook, that might not be foolproof evidence either way. “Despite its widespread use, handwriting analysis is neither reliable nor scientifically confirmed,” the site reported.
5. Nelson Accused Roy Moore of Sexually Assaulting Her When She Was a Teenager
The yearbook was just one prong of Nelson’s story. She accuses Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was only 16. Nelson, 56, said she was 16-years old and working as a waitress at a restaurant in Alabama when Moore sexually assaulted her. She described him as being a regular at the restaurant and very flirtatious. On one occasion, she said Moore offered to give her a ride home after a shift. She claims that instead of driving toward her house, though, Moore drove to the back of the restaurant and proceeded to sexually assault her. Moore denies the allegations.
As a teenager, Nelson started working as a waitress after school at the Old Hickory House, a restaurant in Gadsden that Moore frequented, she said. She worked there when she was 15-16 years old and said she’d often work until 7-10 p.m. Moore would come into the restaurant “nearly every day,” sitting in the same seat and oftentimes staying until the restaurant closed, she claimed. Nelson has said she’s a Donald Trump supporter.
Nelson burst into tears as she described how Moore allegedly complimented her appearance, saying he was very flirtatious with her. On occasion, she accused Moore of touching her long, red hair. Nelson was the fifth woman to launch accusations against Moore; a sixth woman came forward shortly after her news conference. The number of accusations had risen to eight by November 18.
In addition, some, including a Moore accuser, have alleged that Moore was “banned” from Gadsen Mall for hanging around young women there, but the former manager of Gadsen Mall, Barnes Boyle said to local TV: “We did have written reports and things. But to my knowledge, he was not banned from the mall,” Boyle said. Boyle gave the interview to WBRC in Birmingham, Ala. Breitbart reported that Nelson’s stepson has spoken out against her. The conservative site is affiliated with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who has supported Roy Moore. Moore’s wife, Kayla, and Nelson were high school classmates.
You can read more about Nelson’s accusations here:
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