A second woman has come forward to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager, less than a week after the Washington Post published a report alleging similar abuses.
Beverly Young Nelson held a press conference on Monday to share her story, alleging that Moore had attempted to rape her in 1975. Nelson was 16 at the time and Moore was 28.
New Roy Moore accuser says she “thought he was going to rape me” when she was 16 years old https://t.co/riN9sKgudy— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 13, 2017
Beverly Young Nelson, then 16 years old, says Roy Moore told her: "You're just a child. I am the District Attorney... If you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you." https://t.co/CoAYGcQHwy— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 13, 2017
Nelson's press conference followed the release of poll results Monday showing that Moore—despite last week's bombshell allegations—continued to hold a lead over Democratic opponent Doug Jones. The survey was taken by Emerson College last Thursday through Saturday, just after the Post released its thoroughly-researched report alleging that Moore had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 and Alabama's assistant district attorney.
The Post report also included allegations that Moore had pursued romantic relationships with girls ranging in age from 16 to 18 when he was an adult. The age of consent in Alabama was and still is 16.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Moore to step aside in the race, saying "I believe the women" who accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an adult in his 30s. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also urged Moore to leave the race, after previously saying he should step aside only if the allegations were found to be true.
Contrasting with the calls from Washington, D.C. on Monday, however, were the voices of evangelical Christian leaders. More than 50 pastors signed a letter pledging their support of Moore, accusing "the Washington establishment" of waging an "all-out war on his campaign."
The pastors praised Moore's resolve in fighting "the culture wars"—suggesting that the question of whether it's acceptable to sexually abuse teenagers is a topic up for debate between Alabama residents and the rest of the country—and urged voters to join them in supporting him.
About 86 percent of adults in Alabama are Christians and nearly half of those are evangelical Protestants. On Sunday, 37 percent of evangelicals in the state reported that they were more likely to vote for Moore following last week's allegations, according to a JMC Analytics poll.
Last year, President Donald Trump won 80 percent of evangelical voters' support in the general election, a month after an audio recording was released in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.