When Beverly Young Nelson, accompanied by Gloria Allred, accused Roy Moore of sexual assault behind a diner when she was 16, she showed a high school yearbook with Moore’s purported dated signature to prove she knew him.

The yearbook entry was a piece of evidence that immediately raised questions. I wrote at the time Roy Moore “handwriting analyses” prove Trial by Twitter is no way to determine guilt or innocence:

When I was in private practice, I handled several cases in which handwriting examination was critical. The issues in most of the cases were whether certain securities brokerage documents were signed by the customer, and whether other markings on the documents were those of the customer. I hired and cross-examined handwriting examiners, and learned a few things that have stuck with me even though I’ve been out of private practice for a decade.

First, a copy of a document is totally inadequate. TOTALLY. The original needs to be examined.

Second, the entire field of non-forensic handwriting analysis is questionable ….

Third, the FBI and people trained by the FBI and other law enforcement labs know how to do it right, and it’s all about forensics. Inks can be tested and time dated, pressure marks can be measured, and there are a slew of forensic imaging and other tools that can be used. I’d trust such an analysis far more that an “it looks similar” analysis.

Fourth, the entire field of non-forensic handwriting analysis is questionable. But I repeat myself. For a reason.

Gloria Allred repeatedly declined to make the yearbook available for forensic analysis, as I covered in If Roy Moore wins, thank Gloria Allred and Al Franken:

If there was a turning point in Roy Moore’s political fortunes, it was the press conference Gloria Allred held with accuser Beverly Nelson, who emotionally described what she said was a sexual assault behind a diner at which she worked.

That press conference gave Moore two things he needed politically: a chance to make Allred an issue in the campaign, and a piece of physical evidence to attack, the handwriting in the yearbook….

But Allred has refused so far to subject the yearbook to an independent examination, unless done at a Senate hearing, which isn’t going to happen. Allred also refused to declare the signature authentic. Perhaps Allred secretly is having the yearbook examined and will hold a press conference with a qualified document examiner to declare authenticity, but that doesn’t look likely at the moment.

All Moore needs to do politically is to call the accusations into question, to raise doubts, to turn it into a 40-year-old he said/she said dispute. The yearbook that was declared by the media to be proof of Moore’s guilt now has become that cloud obscuring possible guilt.

There is a twist that just surfaced today. In an ABC News interview, Nelson acknowledged adding information to the yearbook entry, but says most of the writing is Moore’s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9FI8mAVebw

The questioning in the interview on this point was inadequate. When did she add the notes underneath? That’s important because the notes she added, by her own admission, were the date and the location, the diner where she allegedly was assaulted. Otherwise, it’s just a high school yearbook entry which may prove Moore knew her, but doesn’t place her and Moore together at the diner without the information Nelson added. (added) It’s also unclear from this interview whether the initials “D.A.” were added by Nelson.

Apparently Nelson and Allred are having another press conference this afternoon. Perhaps more will be learned, including whether there has been a forensic examination of the yearbook and if so, by whom.

We will update.

UPDATE 4:40 p.m.

I didn’t see it, so here is the CBS report on Allred’s press conference. After I find the full video of the press conference, I may have more comment.

Gloria Allred held a news conference Friday to defend Beverly Young Nelson amid accusations about the signature in her yearbook, which some Roy Moore defenders have said does not match his handwriting.

Allred says she sought the opinion of a forensic document expert, Arthur Anthony, to analyze the signature. Allred provided reporters with the report provided by Anthony, with his assessment that the signature in the yearbook is Moore’s. Included in the sheaf of papers she presented were examples of Moore signature from when he was a deputy district attorney decades ago.

WaPo adds that Allred admitted her client also wrote “D.A.” after the signature.

Nelson’s attorney Gloria Allred announced Friday that Nelson’s previous statement, which Allred had repeated, was incorrect. Moore only wrote the first part of that message up to his signature, she said. The rest of the words, not shown in cursive — “D.A. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House” — were written later by Nelson, Allred said.

That seem’s a significant omission from the first press conference as well. A key part of her story is that Moore presented himself as the District Attorney. Hence, the “D.A.” which she now admits she added and was not part of the signature appears to be another attempt to bolster her story by doctoring the evidence.

[Note: Headline and text updated to reflect that Beverly Young was the accuser’s name at the time of the alleged incident, she’s now Beverly Young Nelson]