So-called “fact-checking” websites have objected to Breitbart News’ use of the term “forgery” to describe the yearbook that Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, have used in attempting to corroborate Nelson’s allegation that Moore sexually assaulted her some 40 years ago.
Politifact labeled the claim “Pants on Fire,” and Facebook has even attached a pop-up warning to a Breitbart article about the alleged forgery.
On Friday, Nelson admitted that she had added “notes” to an inscription that she claimed Moore made in her high school yearbook. She still claims that Moore signed the yearbook, but admitted that some of the writing was hers.
That is textbook forgery.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines “forgery” as follows (original emphasis):
forgery, n. 1. The act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as if genuine … 2. A false or altered document made to look genuine by someone with the intent to deceive … 3. Under the Model Penal Code, the act of fraudulently altering, authenticating, issuing, or transferring a writing without appropriate authorization.
Note that forgery includes altering a real document. It does not matter if part of the document — say, the signature — is real. If any part of the document is altered and presented as original and authentic, it is a forgery and the entire document is legally useless — or worse than useless, since it impeaches the credibility of the person presenting it.
Originally, both Nelson and Moore claimed that the entire writing was Moore’s. At the press conference on Nov.13 where Nelson presented her story, both she and Allred read the inscription in the yearbook in full and stated clearly that Roy Moore was responsible for all of it.
Here is Nelson reading the inscription (11:38 to 12:08): “He wrote in my yearbook, as follows: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, Old Hickory House.”‘ And he signed it, ‘Roy Moore D.A.'”
— rmcmanus (@andjustice4all3) December 8, 2017
And here is Allred doing the same: “Mr. Moore’s signature appears because he signed her yearbook, and we have provided you with copies [inaudible]. Oh, here it is. OK, this is what we gave you as a copy, wherein he says he signed it to her — well, he didn’t give her name, but he said: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say “Merry Christmas.” Christmas 1977.’ — hold the other end, please, thank you — ‘Love, Roy Moore’ — oh, excuse me — ‘Love, Roy Moore, D.A.,12-22-77, Old Hickory House.'”
When Gloria Allred read out Roy Moore’s yearbook inscription without revealing that it was altered pic.twitter.com/DuHMOM7hVp
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) December 8, 2017
Politifact suggests that Breitbart News claimed Roy Moore’s signature is false. We did not — though there are some online sleuths who do, or who claim that the “Roy” is real but the “Moore” was added later, in different ink. That is all irrelevant, however. If even part of the document was altered, it is a forgery.
The yearbook was presented not just to show that Roy Moore knew Nelson, but to establish the time and place where he allegedly assaulted her. We now know that at least some of that information was not written by Moore, as Nelson and Allred originally claimed.
Not only did Nelson and Allred claim, falsely, that Moore wrote the entire inscription, but they refused to offer it to a neutral and independent expert for analysis. And they waited more than three weeks to admit that the inscription had been altered. That is forgery, and to the extent it casts doubt on Nelson’s story, that is her, and Allred’s, fault.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.