Roy Moore’s defense [UPDATED TWICE]

Today, an attorney for Roy Moore’s campaign spoke to the press. His remarks provide the contours of the candidate’s defense (as of this time) against the charge that he attempted to rape Beverly Young Nelson.

The attorney made several interrelated points. All of them relate to the yearbook with the personal note Nelson says Moore wrote to her. The attorney pointed out that this is the only evidence Nelson has offered, other than her word, that supports her allegations of attempted rape (though it does not directly support that allegation). On the other hand, the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by Leigh Corfman can be viewed as supporting Nelson’s claim.

The attorney’s first point was that Nelson denied encountering Moore ever again after the alleged attempted rape. However, Moore actually presided over Nelson’s divorce case in 1999 and signed the order in that case.

Second, the order in that case included the letters “DA” next to Moore’s name. These are the initials of Moore’s clerk at the time.

The same letters appear on Moore’s note to Nelson in her yearbook. Moore, though, was not yet a district attorney, and says (plausibly) that he never wrote these letters next to his name.

The inference Moore wants us to draw is that the signature and the letters next to it that appear on the yearbook were lifted from the divorce court order. In other words, the yearbook writing is fake, at least in part.

Third, the Moore campaign has hired a handwriting expert. His work is not complete, and is hampered by the fact that he’s working with a copy of the yearbook note pulled from the internet — not from the original document.

The campaign has demanded that the yearbook itself be produced. This would enable the expert to do a proper analysis, including an analysis of the ink to make sure it’s from 40 years ago (or so). A neutral would oversee the production and inspection to make sure the document isn’t destroyed, improperly retained ( James Blaine style), or altered.

The attorney also observed that there are differences in the “7s” that appear in the yearbook note. This suggests more than one “author.” Such a discrepancy would make it all the more important that the handwriting expert have access to the original document.

If I heard the attorney correctly, Moore denies that the bottom part of the inscription — the part with “Olde Hickory House,” his signature, and “DA” — is his handwriting. I don’t think he denies that his handwriting appears at all. However, the attorney didn’t take any questions, so I’m not sure about this.

If Moore wrote any part of the inscription, then his initial denial of knowing Nelson at all is false. This would undermine his credibility.

However, if Nelson doctored the document, this would undermine her credibility to a much greater degree.

As a political matter, I suspect that if there’s good evidence of tampering by Nelson, the entire anti-Moore narrative regarding teenage girls will lose its grip. Moore will be seen as the victim, notwithstanding that Corfman and even Nelson might have been his victims.

Here’s video of the lawyer’s statement. Don’t be put off by the length of the video. The statement starts a few minutes in and is relatively brief.

UPDATE: In a letter to Sean Hannity, Moore says that during the 1999 divorce case, Nelson never objected to him being the judge. It seems unusual that a woman would be okay with having someone who tried to rape her preside over her divorce case.

How complicated that case was and how much interaction between Moore and Nelson was involved, I do not know. It would be interesting to find out.

MEANWHILE: Two more women who were teenagers during the same period have described unwanted advances by Moore. One alleges that he forced a kiss on her during a date. She was around 18 at the time.

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