ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. – A careful review of court records and an interview with an attorney who was present suggests the lawyer who attacked pieces of Roy Moore’s accuser’s story on the Moore campaign’s behalf may have misrepresented one of his contentions.
An attorney associated with Roy Moore, Phillip Jauregui, spoke at a Wednesday news conference and called into question details surrounding the account of a woman who says Roy Moore violently sexually assaulted her in 1977 when she was 16. Jauregui says the accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, had contact with Roy Moore after the alleged incident through a divorce case, despite her account being that there was no further contact.
However, court records and an interview with the attorney who represented Nelson during the court proceedings in question suggest that’s not true.
Jauregui prefaced his remarks about the additional contact by saying, “It takes time, and we want to be correct. We want to make sure that when we say something, it’s proper. We’re still working through some things, but there are some things that you need to know and that we want to make you aware of.”
He then said, “During the press conference that Ms. Nelson and Gloria Allred had on Monday, they both said that Ms. Nelson, after the allegations, had never seen nor had any contact with Judge Moore. As it turns out, in 1999, Ms. Nelson filed a divorce action against her then-husband, Mr. Harris.”
“Guess who that case was before?” Jauregui continued. “It was in Etowah County, and the judge assigned was Judge Roy S. Moore, the circuit judge of Etowah County.”
He emphasized, “There was contact.”
Except a careful review of court records and a conversation with Nelson’s lawyer in that divorce case confirm Nelson never had reason to appear before Moore.
A document with Moore’s signature was produced during the news conference. It shows Moore’s signature on an order dismissing the divorce case, but even Moore’s attorney says the signature was stamped by an aide.
As for the divorce, another judge’s signature appears on every other record of the case except for the dismissal.
In June, her attorney, Rodney Ward, filed notice with the court that a planned hearing in the case should be continued since Mrs. Harris and her husband were seeking counseling. The continuance was granted by Judge W.D. Russell.
The case only lasted from May to July, when Moore approved the dismissal through a motion. Nelson reconciled with her then-husband, so they filed for that dismissal without appearing in court, according to her attorney at the time and the court record. When we spoke to that attorney today, he said he didn’t have an independent memory of the case, which was nearly 20 years ago. However, his reviewed his files in the case, which show no record of any hearing.
Ward told us it was customary in 1999, with an overburdened circuit court in Etowah County, that district judges like Russell handled the initial matters in divorce cases, like temporary custody and visitation.
Ward says when the couple reconciled, he filed notice for dismissal and Moore, the circuit judge, signed it because it was his case.
We reached out to the Moore campaign and Jauregui for clarification. We have not heard back.
The couple would divorce later, but before another judge.