(CN) – A new accuser of Alabama Republican Roy Moore came forward Monday saying the Senate candidate assaulted her when he gave her a ride home one night in the late 1970s and that she feared he would rape her.
Beverly Young Nelson cried several times at a news conference in New York with attorney Gloria Allred, saying she met Moore when she was a 16-year-old high school student working at the Olde Hickory House, a restaurant he frequented.
She said Moore groped her, touched her breasts and locked the door to keep her inside his car. She said he squeezed her neck while trying to push her head toward his crotch and that he tried to pull her shirt off.
Nelson said he finally relented and, as she fell or was pushed out of the car, warned her no one would believe her if she spoke about the encounter.
Later during the press conference, Nelson held up her high-school yearbook, with Moore’s signature: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore… Roy Moore, DA.”
Moore called the allegations a “witch hunt” in a statement shortly before the news conference.
The news conference was held hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Moore should leave the race, saying he believes the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.
“I think he should step aside,” McConnell told reporters in Louisville.
His comments come after a report in The Washington Post in which a woman accused Moore of initiating sexual contact with her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32.
Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations, and on Monday he said it’s not he who should step aside, but McConnell.
Taking to Twitter Monday afternoon, Moore said McConnell has “failed conservatives and must be replaced.”
McConnell had previously said Moore should only leave the race if the allegations were true.
But on Monday, he was decidedly more emphatic.
“I believe the women, yes,” McConnell said in response to a reporter’s question.
In the wake of Nelson’s press conference, the head of the Senate Republican campaign committee if Moore wins his race in Alabama, the Senate should vote to expel him.
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said in a statement that he believes the women who accused Moore of sexual misconduct and that they spoke with “courage and truth.” Gardner said what they recounted proves Moore is unfit to serve in the Senate and should not run for office.
He also said if Moore refuses to withdraw from the Alabama race and wins, “the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
In related developments, The New York Times is reporting White House officials have spoken about the idea of replacing Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
According to the Times two White House officials spoke about the potential for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey appointing Sessions to the seat instead.
The officials said Sessions could then be appointed to his old Senate seat “when it becomes vacant,” according to the Times.
Meanwhile, a group of 53 Alabama pastors has signed onto a letter urging Alabamians to vote for Moore, praising him for his “immovable convictions for Biblical principles.”
The letter, published on AL.com, goes on to say Moore suffered “persecution” for his faith by opposing gay marriage as Alabama’s chief justice.
“For decades, Roy Moore has been an immovable rock in the culture wars – a bold defender of the ‘little guy,’ a just judge to those who came before his court, a warrior for the unborn child, defender of the sanctity of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty,” the letter says.
This story is developing.