Birmingham, ALABAMA — A handwriting expert prominently cited by the Washington Post on the matter of the yearbook presented as evidence by Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson raised new questions today in a Breitbart News interview about the inscription and signature at the center of national controversy.
Specifically, the expert raised doubts about whether the initials “DA” at the end of Moore’s alleged signature evidenced stylistic differences when compared to the rest of the writing in the yearbook.
The forensic document examiner, Mark Songer, a former FBI agent, also called for Nelson’s attorney, activist Gloria Allred, to release the original yearbook “to all parties for examination. I think it is only fair. It shouldn’t be hidden or anything like that in my opinion.”
Songer revealed that he “didn’t spend a whole lot of time” on his original examination of the publicly available yearbook inscription image, which was presented at a press conference by Allred, before he provided quotes on the matter to the Washington Post.
He stated that it was only about an hour, or possibly less, from the time he was originally contacted by the Post by email until he gave the newspaper his opinion. That window also included the period of time that he spent looking at the online image.
“It wasn’t an analysis,” Songer stressed. “It was just my observations of whether or not the writings look like they were prepared by one person or multiple people.”
Songer’s comments were brandished by the Post in an article titled, “We asked a handwriting expert to evaluate claims that Roy Moore’s writing was forged.”
Songer said that he explained to the Post that “in order to conduct a full examination, I would need writings from Mr. Moore. Writings from the accuser. So, it was just a very limited on the surface examination.”
Indeed, the Post conceded in its article that “Songer wasn’t able to offer any assessment of the validity of the inscription, which is precisely the point: There is not enough information at hand for an outside observer to make such an evaluation.”
Still, the crux of the Post’s article was to cite Songer as stating that the yearbook inscription appeared to have been spontaneously prepared by one writer.
The Post reported:
Asked whether there was evidence of multiple writers, Songer indicated that he didn’t have enough examples of Moore’s writing to say with certainty.
“Looking at the yearbook entry,” he said, “it looks pretty spontaneously prepared” — that is, it doesn’t look like the writer stopped and restarted, as though someone were tentative in writing perhaps because they were trying to imitate another writer. “It looks very fluid. I don’t see any indications of unnatural writing.”
“The writing seems consistent with one writer,” he added, though he pointed out that “Old Hickory House” and the second date appear to be different stylistically.
While he is now calling for Allred to release the yearbook, the Post reported that “Songer didn’t know that Moore’s team necessarily needed the yearbook.”
“The quality of this copy?” Songer told the Post, “I think they could come to a qualified opinion.”
Songer’s observations about “Old Hickory House” and the date appearing to be stylistically different seem to have been validated by an admission today by Nelson.
At her original press conference with Allred, Nelson claimed that Moore wrote the entire yearbook inscription. She stated, “He wrote in my yearbook as follows: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say Merry Christmas, Christmas, 1977, Love, Roy Moore, Olde Hickory House. Roy Moore, DA.”
Nelson on Friday told ABC News that she added “notes” underneath what she claims is Moore’s signature on her high school yearbook. Those “notes” seem to be the date and location — “12-22-77 Olde Hickory House.” The “DA” initials are not underneath Moore’s signature but alongside it.
“Beverly, he did sign your yearbook?” interviewer Tom Llamas of ABC asked Nelson.
“He did sign it,” Nelson replied.
“And you made some notes underneath?” Llamas asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
In a follow-up press conference today, Allred made a seemingly carefully worded statement about the alleged changes made to the yearbook by Nelson, but she was unclear whether those changed also included the initials “DA” following Moore’s alleged signature.
“We did not ask the expert to examine the printing after the cursive writing and signature because Beverly indicates that she added that to remind herself of who Roy Moore was and where and when Mr. Moore signed her yearbook,” stated Allred.
A review of the news media coverage of Allred’s unclear statements finds that some media outlets interpreted Allred’s prepared comments to mean that Nelson made changes to the date and location only, while others reported that Allred’s statements indicate a change to the “DA,” as well.
Mediate.com reported that Allred was “referring to the date and location that appear at the end of the quote.”
Newsweek also interpreted Allred’s comments to mean the date and location, reporting that she “claimed Nelson had added the date and venue to ‘remind herself of who Roy Moore was and where and when Mr. Moore signed her yearbook.’”
AL.com, a widely cited local publication here in Alabama, similarly reported Allred was referring to the date and location, not mentioning the DA:
Allred was asked about Nelson being accused of forging the yearbook entry because she acknowledged Friday, for the first time, that she added the date and location of the signature to what she said was Moore’s yearbook signature.
The Chicago Tribune published a Washington Post article reporting that “Allred acknowledged that Nelson added the date and restaurant name below the signature.”
Slate.com was unsure, however, reporting in parenthesis that Allred “apparently” was also referring to the “DA.”
Allred explained that the information after the signature (apparently including the “D.A.” lettering) had been added by Nelson…
Speaking to Breitbart News, Songer, the expert originally cited by the Washington Post, raised questions about the “DA.”
He stressed that “[I] don’t have enough information to say whether or not it was produced by any certain individual because I don’t have anything to compare it with.”
Referring to the “DA,” he said that “if you’re asking me to compare the cursive portions with tha, there appears to be a different style there. But we don’t know that for sure.”
Relevant to the mystery surrounding the “DA” is the revelation that Nelson failed to disclose that Moore’s stamped signature appeared on her 1999 divorce document.
That stamped signature raises more questions about the yearbook inscription, particularly the initials D.A. which appear in both the yearbook after Moore’s alleged signature and in Nelson’s previously undisclosed divorce document from two decades later.
The 1999 divorce document was stamped with Moore’s signature, and initialed “DA” by Moore’s assistant at the time, Delbra Adams.
Breitbart News interviewed Adams, who explained it is normal procedure for a clerk to initial a stamped signature on a legal document to verify that the stamp is authentic.
Phillip L. Jauregui, a Moore campaign attorney, raised numerous questions about the signature, including about the “DA,” attempting to link it to a signature on Nelson’s 1999 divorce document. “After Judge Moore’s signature, it has the initials capital D.A. Remember I told you about that 99 divorce action? Judge Moore looked at that ‘DA’ after his signature.”
“Judge Moore says he can’t remember ever signing his name with DA after it. But he had seen it before. You know where he had seen it? When he was on the bench, his assistant whose initials are capital D. A. Delbra Adams would stamp his signature on a document and put capital D. A. That’s exactly how this signature appears on the divorce decree that Judge Moore signed dismissing the divorce action of Beverly Nelson.”
Nelson said that she originally met Moore when he was a 30-year-old deputy district attorney in Etowah County and would regularly eat at a restaurant in Gadsden called Olde Hickory House.
Nelson claims that Moore used to compliment her on her looks and that he signed her yearbook in 1977 sometime just before Christmas.
Nelson’s stepson, Darrel Nelson, claimed in an interview with this reporter that his stepmother’s accusations are “one hundred percent a lie.”
A minister who says that he dated Nelson at around the same time that she claims to have been assaulted by Moore told Breitbart News that he does not believe his ex-girlfriend about the allegations. The former boyfriend, Jeff DeVine, attended high school with Young and is currently in Thailand, where he runs DeVine Ministries with his wife and twin daughters. He says that as part of his ministry, which focuses on rescuing children, he has worked with victims of rape and other trauma.
Listen to Aaron Klein discuss the issue with Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon on Friday’s Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM:
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.