On Friday, Beverly Young Nelson, an accuser of Roy Moore, appeared at a press conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred. The two women discussed Nelson’s allegation that when she was 16 years old, Moore, who at that time was an assistant district attorney in Etowah County, Alabama, signed Nelson’s yearbook and later sexually assaulted her in his car. As part of their presentation, Allred released a professional assessment of the yearbook inscription. The report, which appears below, was solicited by Allred and written by Arthur T. Anthony, a court-certified document examiner in Georgia.
Slate is publishing the report, with Allred’s permission, so that it can be fully examined by all parties. It compares the handwriting in the yearbook to several known samples of Moore’s writing, including his 1985 marriage license application. It also examines the handwriting on a high school graduation card that another woman, Debbie Gibson, says Moore wrote and gave to her in 1981. Anthony concludes that all of these samples were written by the same person. According to his determination, Moore wrote both the yearbook inscription and the graduation card.
Several elements of the report are significant. First, on the opening page, it says of the yearbook inscription: “[T]he handwritten notation after the signature ‘D.A. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House’ is not in question.” This echoes what Allred disclosed at the press conference: Nelson wrote those notes. Four weeks ago, when Nelson and Allred initially displayed the yearbook to reporters and read the inscription aloud, they didn’t mention that Nelson had written any of the words on the page. They should have. The report doesn’t address whether these notes match Nelson’s handwriting on other documents.
Second, the report includes, as its first exhibit, a full-page color image of the yearbook inscription. Presumably, this image came directly from the yearbook, since the book is in Nelson’s possession. The image shows a yellowed background, which implies that color differences between different inks should be visible as well. Contrary to derivative, TV-based images that have circulated on the internet, which depict a color shift from black to blue, the image in the report shows no color shift.
That doesn’t mean two different pens weren’t used. Moore, his attorney, and Nelson have all signaled, in various public comments, that one person wrote the inscription and another wrote the notes below it. But the absence of a color shift is important, because some derivative images circulated on the internet portray a shift between “Roy” and “Moore.” That would imply deception on Nelson’s part beyond simply adding notes about who Moore was and where and when he signed the yearbook. If the image shown in this report is accurate, then the images that have circulated on the internet appear to have been doctored.
It’s worth noting that the letters of the word “more” in the inscription look just like the letters of the word “Moore” in the signature. This supports the claim made in various ways by Nelson, Allred, and Anthony that she didn’t add anything before the letters “D.A.”
Third, Anthony’s explanation for his conclusion—that he found “excellent and significant agreement” among all the samples, based on “relative size, slant, skill level, letter designs, beginning or initial strokes, ending or terminal strokes, pressure patterns, height relationships between letters and punctuation”—is backed up by what meets the eye. It’s extremely improbable that two different people could have written the yearbook inscription and the graduation card. It’s also extremely improbable that one person other than Moore could have written both of them, since the yearbook and the card were in the possession of two women in different states who didn’t know one another. Anthony points out that both samples appear “freely and rapidly written,” which would be virtually impossible for a forger to execute twice.
Fourth, this report was solicited by Allred. If it hadn’t reached a conclusion favorable to her client, she was under no obligation to disclose or release it. Moore’s attorneys argue, rightly, that they should be allowed to submit the yearbook to their own expert, who might produce a contrary assessment. Allred says Nelson is willing to submit the yearbook for independent examination, but only in the context of a formal proceeding, such as a Senate investigation, in which both Nelson and Moore can be called to testify under oath.
Until then, we’re publishing the report so you can evaluate it for yourself.