I write this piece with the full knowledge that it's unlikely to convince a single person of anything, because everyone seems to have reached their own conclusions about Roy Moore at this point -- which, in most cases, align with their immediate political interests. If Moore were a Democrat running in a blue state, and all other facts of the controversy were equal, I'd wager that virtually every single current Moore defender the Right would be shouting something along the lines of, "lock him up." I've made it clear, with full transparency, that I oppose Moore's candidacy for a host of reasons, even as I'm unable to countenance his opponent's abortion radicalism. That was true before any of the nine accusers stepped forward with their stories. And despite agreeing that it's reasonable for Moore's team to ask that the yearbook produced by Moore's most serious accuser be examined by independent experts (that high school yearbook, incidentally, also featured Moore's eventual wife, who's been amplifying fake news for weeks on his behalf), I find the allegations against him to be credible.
One of the counter-arguments I often encounter is that there's no physical corroboration, and that these claims stem from conduct that supposedly occurred decades ago, and never arose previously. There are a number of responses to that logic, one of which is that it requires discounting statements from multiple witnesses who attest that a number of these women confided in them about Moore's behavior and advances at the time. For reference, similar contemporaneous accounts are key pieces of proof behind Juanita Broaddrick's rape allegations against Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, Beverly Young's yearbook was the only piece of hard evidence on the table (Moore insists he knows neither Ms. Young nor any of the women; more on that in a moment), which is why his defenders are so desperate to declare it "forged" or "debunked" (neither word applies, although theories to that effect abound). We now have an additional piece of physical evidence discovered by one of the four women named and quoted in the original Washington Post story:
Debbie Wesson Gibson was in her attic hauling out boxes of Christmas decorations last week when she noticed a storage bin she said she had forgotten about. Inside was a scrapbook from her senior year of high school, and taped to a page titled “Those Who Inspire” was a graduation card. “Happy graduation Debbie,” it read in slanted cursive handwriting. “I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you’ll be a success in anything you do. Roy.” The inscription, Gibson said, was written by Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican nominee for U.S. Senate who in recent days has repeatedly denied the accounts of five women who told The Washington Post that he pursued them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s...Gibson said that she publicly dated Moore when she was 17 and he was 34, a relationship she said she “wore like a badge of honor” until she began reevaluating it in light of the accounts of other women, and now, Moore’s own denials.
What infuriated Ms. Gibson was Moore's flat denial that he knew any of the women who now say he pursued them romantically or sexually when they were teens. At first, he told Sean Hannity that he did know a few of them, but didn't recall dating them -- awkwardly equivocating on the question of whether or not he dated high schoolers as a thirty-something. Within days, his statements became more sweeping:
At two campaign events in recent days, Moore has backtracked. At a Nov. 27 campaign event in the north Alabama town of Henagar, Moore said: “The allegations are completely false. They are malicious. Specifically, I do not know any of these women.” At a Nov. 29 rally at a church in the south Alabama town of Theodore, Moore said, “Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.” Gibson said that after finding the scrapbook, she was not sure whether to make it public given the threats she received after publication of the original story. Then she heard what Moore said last week, she said, and contacted The Post. “He called me a liar,” said Gibson, who says she not only openly dated Moore when she was 17 but later joined him in passing out fliers during his campaign for circuit court judge in 1982 and exchanged Christmas cards with him over the years. “Roy Moore made an egregious mistake to attack that one thing — my integrity.”
The Post had the note analyzed by a former FBI forensic examiner, who said it appears to be authentic from that time period. He also said the handwriting and "Roy" signature strongly resemble the note inscribed in Ms. Young's yearbook. Sure enough, it does look awfully similar:
This new @mccrummenWaPo story is devastating to Roy Moore's main defense: that the signature on Beverly Nelson's yearbook is fake. Compare it to this not to Debbie Gibson. https://t.co/cLLu9jP3Xz pic.twitter.com/ddCtdFIvnP— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 4, 2017
Was this one forged, too? And it just happens to match another decades-old "forgery"? C'mon. The delusions required to believe Moore's shifting stories are getting increasingly absurd. Nonetheless, it's fair to ask if an innocuous (high school) graduation card amounts to proof of anything. Well, the scrapbook contained more pieces of evidence:
As she flipped through the scrapbook last week, Gibson said, she realized it contained other indications of her relationship with Moore, which she says began in March 1981, after he came to speak to her high school civics class. On a page titled “commencement,” under “My own guests,” she had written “Roy S. Moore,” just above “mom” and “dad.” On a page titled “remembrances,” she had listed her graduation gifts line by line, including “$10, card” from “Roy S. Moore,” and a check mark indicating she had sent a thank-you card. On a page titled “the best times,” she had written: “Wednesday night, 3-4-81. Roy S. Moore and I went out for the first time. We went out to eat at Catfish Cabin in Albertville. I had a great time.” She had underlined “great” twice.
Why is any of this significant? She's describing consensual relationship from a time in her life when she'd reached the age of consent in Alabama; she even affirms that their physical contact was limited to embracing and kissing. Maybe it's creepy that Moore was dating a high school student as a 34-year-old man, but it wasn't a crime. I'd argue it's significant because Moore altered his story, from half-heartedly claiming that he didn't quite recall dating Gibson to straight-up denying that he knew or dated "any of these women." That's a lie, Gibson says, and her scrapbook helps prove it. The giddy schoolgirl journal entries about being "inspired" by Moore, and having had a "great" time on dates with him -- written in the early 1980's -- are compelling evidence that (a) he's being dishonest, and (b) the proclivities and attractions of which he's accused are true. The scuttlebutt about his known weirdness at teenage hangouts didn't appear out of nowhere. All of that, in turn, enhances the credibility of Moore's nine accusers, all of whom he says are lying. For what it's worth, Gibson is a registered Republican whose sign language interpretation work has served clients from both political parties. She says she's held Moore in "high esteem" over the years, but this recent firestorm has changed her perspective dramatically:
“It takes what I thought was a very lovely part of my past, and it colors it, and it changes it irrevocably,” she said. “It changes it permanently.” What made her decision to share the documents easier, she said, was watching and re-watching a video she has on her cellphone of Moore speaking last week and deciding that supporting the women who have come forward was more important than staying silent. “At 34 minutes and 56 seconds into the video, he says, unequivocally, I did not know any of them,” Gibson said. “In that moment, it changed my perspective. I knew he was a liar.”
If Moore is lying about his relationship with Gibson, and about not even knowing some of these women, why should he get the benefit of the doubt on his denials of the more disturbing molestation allegations? Apparently these questions aren't terribly relevant anymore at the RNC, which has reversed its decision to abandon Moore, following Trump's endorsement. The NRSC, however, remains out:
I'll leave you with Gibson's story in her own words: