Analysis: Implications of Roy Moore Accuser's Admission That She Doctored Yearbook Inscription

Posted: Dec 08, 2017 1:30 PM

As regular readers already know, I find Roy Moore's Senate candidacy abhorrent, and I believe the nine women accusing him of sexual and romantic advances when they were high school teens and he was a grown man in his thirties.  Earlier in the week, I highlighted new physical proof that helps fortify one of his accuser's stories and exposes him as a tale-shifting liar.  But above all, I'm interested in the truth -- which is why it's important to acknowledge and grapple with strands of evidence that cut against my conclusions.  On that note, the Moore accuser who alleges the most serious misconduct has sustained a self-inflicted blow to her own credibility.  Beverly Young is one of two women who say Moore's inter-generational advances crossed a line into sexual assault and molestation.  She claims Moore attacked her in his car behind a restaurant where she worked, at which Moore was a regular guest.  

In her press conference with publicity-seeking lawyer Gloria Allred several weeks ago, she produced a high school yearbook that contained what she said was a note written to her by Moore; proof, it seemed, that she and he were at least acquainted.  Moore has dubiously asserted that he doesn't know any of his accusers (a reversal from his previous spin), and his wife claimed on social media that the restaurant in question didn't exist at the time Ms. Young says it did, which is provably false.  Nevertheless, Allred said specifically that the entire yearbook entry was written in Moore's hand.  We now know that's not true.  Young has confessed that she added a portion of his signature herself.  Details first, then some analysis below:

Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson on Friday admitted to ABC that she added the date and place to Moore’s signature in her 1977 yearbook. “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore... Roy Moore, DA. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House,” the yearbook inscription read. Although Nelson’s lawyer Gloria Allred initially attributed the entire note to Moore, Nelson now says the date and restaurant annotations were hers. However, Nelson emphasized, the rest of the signature is authentic and she stands by her accusation that, when she was 16 years old, Moore groped and attempted to rape her. Although her admission does not compromise the meat of her story, it will likely give ammo to the Alabama Republican and his supporters who have called his accusers liars and suggested Nelson’s yearbook signature was a forgery.

Here's the video, with the relevant bit starting just after the one minute mark:

Four points: (1) I'm sorry, ABC News, but how can you just glance over this admission as a matter of fact "oh by the way" development?  Why did she do this, in her own words?  When did she add the extra pieces?  Does she realize how this looks?  Does she feel like she's undermined herself, and by extension, the other alleged victims?  This disclosure shouldn't have been glanced over in about 25 seconds.

(2) As I have said all along, the best argument Moore's defenders have advanced to poke holes in Ms. Young's story is the inconsistency in the handwriting, especially in the numeral '7,' between Moore's alleged note to her and the post-signature details.  That's why I've consistently argued that Allred and her client should hand over the book itself to independent handwriting experts for full analysis.  Allred punted on that issue, and now we know why.  In what appears to be a misguided effort to make her case appear more concrete, Young doctored the signature portion of the inscription.  In doing so, and belatedly admitting it, she has badly hurt herself.  That may seem unfair to her, but it's inescapably true.  If you're making extremely serious allegations against someone, altering evidence to enhance your argument is extremely foolish, at best.  Even people who are inclined to believe her overall story, myself included, now have a bona fide reason to wonder if she's embellished or fabricated other elements of her account.  Don't invent evidence.

(3) Ironically, if she'd simply left the yearbook alone, she'd probably have Moore dead to rights -- although she had no way of knowing it at the time.  I urge you to go back and read my post from Tuesday, which showcases a relevant recent discovery made by a separate Moore accuser.  Debbie Gibson found her high school scrapbook, which contained a handwritten note to her from Roy Moore in 1981, congratulating her on her graduation (again, Moore now says he doesn't know Gibson, which very much appears to be a lie).  The slanted cursive handwriting on that card, as well as the name "Roy," appear to be extremely compelling matches to the portion of yearbook inscription that Young now insists was written by Moore.  Look for yourself:  

Young had no idea that Gibson's corroborating evidence was sitting in a Florida attic, of course, so she chose to "augment" her proof on her own.  In making that choice, she very well may have handed Moore the hook he needs to lump all nine accusers' stories together and dismiss them all as "debunked."

(4) The waters have been muddied, and there's no getting around that reality.  Nevertheless, there is now absolutely no reason for Young and Allred to continue to withhold the yearbook.  With Young's credibility in trouble, she needs to turn the physical proof over to respected document and handwriting analysts who can assess the latest version of her claim (that the note itself is authentic and original, but the extra pieces are not).  Ms. Gibson should also hand over her graduation card to the same experts to test whether handwritten notes attributed to Moore by the two women were indeed written by the same person -- which looks highly likely to my untrained eyes.  If so, the only reasonable conclusion is that Roy Moore penned both inscriptions, which would further prove that he's lying about knowing 'none' of his accusers.  Young isn't the only party here whose credibility is in serious doubt.  The same standard that applies to her ("if she'll lie about this detail, why believe anything else she says?") also applies to him.  I'll leave you with this freshly-unearthed video of Moore, affirming that the United States is the true "focus of evil" in the modern world:

Putin's right, Moore says -- it's fair to characterize America as ground zero of international evil because "we promote a lot of bad things."  His example to back up this assessment: Same-sex marriage.  Regardless of what one thinks of a public policy that allows same-sex couples to legally marry, it takes a deeply perverted sense of morality to suggest that this somehow renders America more "evil" than any number of truly malignant actors around the planet -- including (but hardly limited to) the ISIS savages who throw accused homosexuals off of rooftops to their deaths.  I realize that some people are willing to justify literally anything for tribalistic and partisan purposes, but in a moment of quiet candor, every conservative would admit this point is spot on:

Moore and Jeremiah Wright seem to have more in common than either one of them might care to admit, although I suspect Pastor "God Damn America" Wright might not sign on to this gem.  Good Lord:

UPDATE - I've edited the headline to say "inscription" rather than "signature," a word I used in the "email signature" sense.  Others have objected to my use of the word "doctored," but I stand by that description.  The yearbook was presented to the public by Young's lawyer as written entirely by Moore.  It was not.  This misrepresentation was allowed to stand for weeks.  As I noted above, we don't know why or when she added her own annotation.  Perhaps she has a good explanation, but she didn't offer it up front, which is a problem.  She personally doctored (i.e. changed) an inscription that was fully attributed to Moore.  For what it's worth, here is Allred's explanation today, which included a handwriting expert's opinion that the original, unaltered note and signature were Moore's.