Registered Sex Offender

This Alabama Man Spent Five Years in Prison for Enticing a 14-Year-Old

Roy Moore may win a Senate seat after allegedly enticing a 14-year-old. Joseph Lee Musso served 59 months—and the 14-year-old in his case never even existed.

Roy Stewart Moore and Joseph Lee Musso are two sons of Alabama who have been individually accused of enticing a 14-year-old girl for sexual purposes.

Only Musso was not the Etowah district attorney at the time.

And Musso was not accused of approaching a 14-year-old as she sat with her mother on a wooden bench outside a courtroom just down the hall from his office.

Musso was also not accused of convincing the mother to leave a 14-year-old alone with him, supposedly to spare the girl the trauma of attending a custody hearing.

Musso was also not accused of taking advantage of his time alone with a 14-year-old under the guise of doing a good deed to get her phone number.

Musso was also not accused of twice arranging to meet a 14-year-old near her home and drive her 30 minutes to his own house in a wooded area.

Musso is also not accused of removing a 14-year-old’s outer garments and undressing himself and placing her hand on his erect penis.

In fact, Musso never actually met the 14-year-old in his case.

That is because his 14-year-old did not exist.

She proved to be an online persona of a federal agent who arrested Musso when he showed up for what he thought was going to be a rendezvous with her. The charges as listed in court papers read:

“18 U.S.C. S 2422(b); Using a Computer to Attempt to Persuade, Induce and Entice a Child to Engage in Sexual Activity.”

That was in December 2004. Musso faced a maximum term of 30 years.

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In March 2005, Musso pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence of 63 months. He served one month short of five years as federal inmate number 25025-001.

Upon his release in February 2010, Musso had to register as a sex offender. An Internet search of the registry produces his picture, his home address, the year, make, and license plate number of his car, and the fact that he has surgical scars on his chest. The section marked "work information” reads DISABLED. The “crime information-description” section says this:

“Victim was a fourteen year old female.”

Moore, who is accused of actually meeting and sexually abusing a 14-year-old back in 1979, continued putting people behind bars for another three years as DA. He then went on to become a circuit court judge and the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat that Jeff Sessions vacated when Trump named him the U.S. attorney general.

All of that might or might not have happened if his alleged victim, Leigh Corfman, had come forward earlier. Moore has vehemently denied the accusations, which he describes as part of a godless conspiracy to keep him out of the U.S. Senate. He has threatened to sue The Washington Post for first reporting it.

But the victim’s accusations gained added credence as three other women said they, too, had been the target of his attentions when they were teens, though none were as young as 14.

On Monday, a fourth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, came forward and alleged that Moore had sexually assaulted her shortly after Christmas 1977, when she had just turned 16.

Nelson appeared at a press conference held by determinedly high profile attorney Gloria Allred in a big suite high up in the ultra fancy Palace Hotel in New York. The host and the venue seemed to be just what Moore might have wanted.

But then Nelson began to read from a written statement, and she was as convincing and as devastating as she would have been down home.

She said she had been 15 when she started working after school as a waitress at the Old Hickory House in Gadsden, Alabama.

Mr. Roy Moore was a regular customer,” she said. “He came in almost every night and would stay until closing time. He sat at the counter in the same seat night after night. I remember exactly where he sat. “

She went on: “Mr. Moore was an adult. He was much older than I was. I knew that he was the district attorney in Etowah County. I did not understand what that meant, but I knew that he was an important person and I always treated him with respect.”

She continued: “When he was at the restaurant, he would speak to me and would sometimes pull the ends of my long hair as I walked by him. I had red hair down to my waist. He would compliment me on my looks. I did not think anything of it. I did nothing to encourage his flirtatious behavior. I was accustomed to men flirting with me because I was well developed and I competed in beauty pageants. I did not attach any significance to Mr. Moore’s behavior towards me and I did not respond to any of Mr. Moore’s flirtatious behavior for two reasons: First, I had a boyfriend. Second, even if I had not had a boyfriend, I was not interested in having a dating or sexual relationship with a man twice my age.”

Moore was then 30.

“I turned 16 on Nov. 14, 1977. About a month later, I received my yearbook from Southside High School, where I had spent my freshman and sophomore years. I happened to bring my yearbook to work with me to the restaurant on Dec. 22, 1977. I put it down at the end of the counter. Mr. Moore happened to notice it and asked if he could write in my yearbook. I felt flattered and I said ‘yes.’ He wrote in my yearbook as follows:

“To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore D.A. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House

“I took the yearbook home with me at the end of my shift that day. I felt honored that Mr. Moore, who was such an important person, would write in my yearbook.”

Christmas came three days later. There came a particular night not long afterward.

“My shift ended at 10 p.m., when the restaurant closed. It was a cold night and I went outside to wait for my boyfriend to pick me up and drive me home. My boyfriend was late. Mr. Moore exited the restaurant at the same time as I did. He noticed that my boyfriend was not there and he offered me a ride home.

“I trusted Mr. Moore. He was the district attorney. I thought that he was simply doing something nice by offering to drive me home. I did not want to wait outside in the cold so I agreed. I wanted to call my boyfriend, but this was before cellphones and I had no way to contact him. My home was only about two and a half miles away. I planned to call my boyfriend after I got home to let him know that I had gotten a ride home and that there was no need for him to pick me up.”

She offered memories still vivid all this time later, made so by what was about to come in her narrative.

“Mr. Moore was wearing brown hush puppies on his feet. He drove a two-door car. I believe that it was an old car, but I do not recall the model. I got into his car in the passenger seat. He began driving. I thought he would get on the highway, but instead he drove to the back of the restaurant. I was not immediately alarmed as there was an exit from the back of the restaurant to the street, and he could drive from there to my house without getting on the highway. However, instead of driving to the street, he stopped the car and parked his car in between the Dumpster and the back of the restaurant, where there were no lights. The area was dark and deserted. I was alarmed and I immediately asked him what he was doing.

“Instead of answering my question, Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts. I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I continued to struggle. I was determined that I would not allow him to force me to have sex with him. I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting and struggling and begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.

“At some point he gave up. He then looked at me and said, ‘You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.’ He finally allowed me to open the car door and I either fell out or he pushed me out. I was on the ground as he pulled out of the parking area behind the restaurant. The passenger door was still open as he burned rubber pulling away, leaving me lying there on the cold concrete in the dark.”

She sounded as if she were still chilled, as if some part of her were still there.

“I got up and tried to pull myself together. I was making my way to the front of the restaurant when my boyfriend arrived. It was late and it was dark. I did not say anything to him as to what had occurred, as he had a violent temper and I was afraid that he would do something that would get him into trouble. When I got home I went to my room. The following morning my neck was black and blue and purple. In the days following I covered the bruising on my neck with makeup. I did not tell anyone about what had happened. I was scared. I felt that if I told anyone, Mr. Moore would do something to me or my family. I decided to keep what happened to myself.

“The day after Mr. Moore assaulted me I called the restaurant and quit my job. I never went there again. About two years later I told my younger sister what Mr. Moore did to me. About four years ago I told my mother what happened. Before I married my husband, John, I told him what Mr. Moore had done to me.”

She added, “My husband and I supported Donald Trump for president. This has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. It has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s sexual assault when I was a teenager.”

She seemed to perceive no irony at all in supporting Trump, who had famously bragged that as a celebrity he could grope women with impunity.  But being as blind to such things as most Trump supporters did not make her any less credible. You had only to hear the hurt from 40 years ago become unmistakable in her voice.

“I thought that I was Mr. Moore’s only victim,” she went on. “I would probably have taken what Mr. Moore did to me to my grave, had it not been for the courage of four other women that were willing to speak out about their experiences with Mr. Moore. Their courage has inspired me to overcome my fear.”

She had repeatedly dabbed her eyes. Her lips had trembled. But she had kept on and at the end sounded stronger for having spoken up.

“Mr. Moore attacked me when I was a child. I did nothing to deserve his sexual attack. I was frightened by his position and his power. I am coming forward to let Mr. Moore know that he no longer has any power over me and I no longer live in fear of him.”

Her attorney said Young was willing to offer this account under oath before a Senate committee. Exhibit A would surely be that high school yearbook that she set on the counter at the Olde Hickory House and he signed four decades ago.

“It has her name on it,” her attorney noted, pointing to the tiny gold letters spelling out Beverly Young from long before she married.

Had she been even a day shy of her 16th birthday instead of a few days past it when the alleged assault took place, she could also be offering her account under oath before a grand jury.

Under Section 15-3-5 of the Alabama Code, offenses “having no limitation” include “any sex offense involving a victim under 16 years of age, regardless of whether it involves force or serious physical injury or death.”

But that provision, which dates to 1985, before which the statute of limitations for the crime was three years, cannot be applied applied retroactively, based on a subsequent Supreme Court decision. Moore's alleged enticement of the 14 year old was in 1977.

Moore better hope that Beverly Nelson Young’s long-ago hot-tempered boyfriend doesn’t hear about all this and decide to settle things belatedly as she feared he might back then, the Alabama way.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said that Moore could still be charged based of Beverly Young Nelson's account of his actions in 1977. The story has been updated to note that the statute of limitations under Alabama's laws at the time has expired.