When presented with personal stories from women about his romantic—and sometimes sexual—advances on them when they were teenagers, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has adopted a Trumpian everyone’s-lying-but-me defense. The Republican now claims, after initially indicating otherwise, he doesn’t know any of the women who have come forward about their teenage experiences decades ago with the small town lawyer, who was then in his thirties. On Monday, the Washington Post—which was responsible for blowing the lid off the story on Roy Moore’s repeated pursuit of teenage girls—reported one of the women, Debbie Wesson Gibson, has found evidence of her relationship with Moore when she was 17 years old. Gibson, who is now 54, told her story to the Post last month, but says she has since found an old scrapbook that includes a handwritten graduation card she says is from Moore, along with other diary-like notes about her dates with the then-34-year-old.
From the Post:
“Happy graduation Debbie,” [the card] 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…” Gibson said she remembers Moore handing the card to her at the Etowah High School graduation ceremony in Attalla, Ala., where Gibson grew up about 10 miles from Moore’s home. She remembers reading the inscription and writing below it: “Roy Moore inspires me because he is such a successful man himself. Also, he is about the only person I know of who seriously believes in me. I appreciate that. He’s got to be one of the nicest people I know.”
The graduation card is important not only because lends further credence to Gibson’s account, but the handwriting style also bolsters another woman’s account of being sexually assaulted by Moore at the age of 16. Beverly Young Nelson made public a note scribbled in her yearbook she says was written and signed by Moore, but the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice’s defenders attacked it as fraudulent, citing nothing other than general, non-expert observations about the writing style as proof it was fabricated. Gibson’s card pretty much torpedoes that, Moore’s only feeble line of defense. Giving the handwriting similarities further credence, the Post had a former FBI forensic examiner compare the writing samples, finding “the style of writing, as well as certain letter features, appear to be similar.”
The Post first reported, early last month, Gibson’s account of her relationship with Moore, which she says began after he came to speak to her high school civics class in 1981. After the class, Moore, then a 34-year-old assistant district attorney, asked the then-17-year-old student out on a series of dates. Gibson said she sought her mother’s approval to see Moore romantically and got her enthusiastic blessing. The relationship, which Gibson said led to kissing, but no further sexual contact, petered out after two or three months and Gibson went away to college. She and Moore, Gibson says, were on good terms and kept in touch over the years, even exchanging Christmas cards. “Looking back, I’m glad nothing bad happened,” Gibson told the Post last month. “As a mother of daughters, I realize that our age difference at that time made our dating inappropriate.”
Despite having a different outlook on the situation as an adult, Gibson, a registered Republican, didn’t appear to harbor any resentment towards Moore for their relationship decades ago. She recalled to the Post that he played his guitar for her and read her poetry he had written. Hearing Moore’s pursuit of other even younger women irked Gibson though and when she shared her story of what she says was an open, public relationship at the time, Moore’s blanket disavowal of their romance angered her. “He called me a liar,” Gibson said. “Roy Moore made an egregious mistake to attack that one thing—my integrity.”
Gibson provided the Post the graduation card as evidence that, at the very least, she knew Roy Moore. In her scrapbook, however, Gibson also found scribbled notes that indicate her relationship with Moore was more than a one-off encounter.
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.
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