WASHINGTON (AP) – A former adjutant to Joe Biden accused the alleged Democratic presidential candidate of sexually assaulting her as a senator in the early 1990s. Biden’s campaign denies the charges.
In two recent interviews with The Associated Press, Tara Reade claimed the attack occurred in the basement of an office building in Capitol Hill in early 1993. On Thursday, she submitted a police report to Washington, in which she was the victim of a sexual assault by an unnamed person in 1993, a copy of which was obtained from the AP.
It is not the first time that Reade has brought charges against the former Vice President. Last year, Reade Biden accused the public of inappropriate touching, but claimed no sexual assault.
In a statement, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said the former vice president had “dedicated his public life to changing the culture and laws related to violence against women”, referring to his work on adopting the law against violence against Women. She said: “He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard – and be respected respectfully,” added, “Such claims should also be carefully considered by an independent press.”
“What is clear about this claim is that it is wrong. That absolutely didn’t happen, ”said Bedingfield.
Reade’s indictment comes at a crucial time for Biden. The former vice president is trying to unite the Democratic Party behind his campaign as the party’s presidential candidate after Senator Bernie Sanders left primary school last week. Women are a key electoral block for Democrats, and any erosion of support for Biden could affect his candidacy in the fall.
The November competition between Biden and President Donald Trump will be the first presidential race of the #MeToo era, a movement that spurred numerous women to raise allegations of sexual assault, including against several prominent men in politics, entertainment, and other industries . Trump has also been accused by numerous women of the attack and unwanted touch, which he denies. He had to apologize during the 2016 campaign after being heard on a recording that boasted of using his fame to attack women.
At the beginning of democratic primary school, Biden was accused by several women of being unintentionally touched. They stated that they felt uncomfortable with hugs, holding hands, and other actions. Reade was one of the women who came forward at the time.
In the past few weeks, she has given a handful of interviews saying that Biden’s actions went beyond what she originally revealed. In an interview with the AP, she described a 1993 encounter that she believed took place when a manager asked her to bring his sports bag to Biden when he was on his way to the Senate high school. She says Biden pushed her against a wall in the basement of an office building in Capitol Hill, fondled her, and penetrated her with his fingers.
“He whispered to me and tried to kiss me at the same time, and he said,” Do you want to go somewhere else? “I said I remembered wanting to stop but I don’t know if I said it out loud or if I just thought it. I was kind of frozen. “
Reade said that she was retiring and looked “shocked and surprised” to Biden and replied, “Come on, man, I heard you like me.”
Reade, who was working in Biden’s office at the time, said she knew no direct witnesses of the encounter. She informed the AP that in several meetings with her superiors, including Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant, she had alleged sexual harassment but not physical assault against Biden. Dennis Toner, Biden’s deputy chief of staff; and Ted Kaufman, the senator’s chief of staff.
In a campaign statement, Baker said that in the almost two decades she worked for Biden, “she never saw, heard, received, or received reports of inappropriate behavior – not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone.”
The AP spoke to five current or former Biden employees on Sunday, all of whom had worked for him at the time of the alleged incident. No one remembered such an incident or report, and neither Toner nor Kaufman remembered Reade. Both said what she had described was untypical for Biden.
“She didn’t come to me. I would have remembered her if she had and I don’t remember her at all, ”said Kaufman.
Reade said she had submitted a written report to a Senate HR office. However, she has not received a copy of it and has not been able to obtain one since Biden’s Senate files are currently at the University of Delaware, which she has not yet published.
The AP could not check whether a report was created.
Reade says that after complaining to her superiors, her job duties were cut back and Toner finally told her that she wasn’t good for the job and encouraged her to find a new one.
Reade told the AP that she had spoken to at least four people about Biden’s behavior before making her experience public: two friends, her brother, and mother. Her mother died and her brother did not respond to a request for comment.
A friend who knew Reade in 1993 said in an interview on Sunday that Reade told them about the alleged attack when it happened. The person who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation did not mention the allegation of attack during an initial interview with the AP last year, but confirmed these details after Reade proceeded with them. The person said she initially advised Reade not to provide details of the attack because she had responded negatively to her less serious allegations of harassment.
The second friend met Reade more than a decade after the alleged incident and confirmed that Reade had had a conversation with them in 2007 or 2008 about Biden sexual harassment while working in his senate office. However, the friend who asked for anonymity to protect his family’s privacy did not mention an attack.
While reporting on Reade’s allegations, the AP also contacted and spoke to 21 former Biden employees from that time. While some remembered Reade, none remembered inappropriate touching or behavior in Biden’s name, or Reade’s complaint.
Melissa Lefko, who worked for Biden at the same time as Reade, said Biden had very little to do with the staff at her level and that Reade’s memory of Biden’s behavior did not match her.
“When you work on the hill, you know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and who you should avoid, and Biden was a good guy, he was never on that bad guy list,” she said in an interview.
Biden’s behavior towards women was examined for the first time shortly before he announced his presidential campaign last spring. Eight women, including Reade, alleged that the former vice president made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate physical affection.
Biden acknowledged the complaints and promised to “pay more attention to personal space in the future”.
The AP spoke to Reade in April 2019 about these complaints. During this interview, Reade claimed that Biden rubbed her shoulders and neck, played with her hair, and was asked by another aide in Biden’s Senate office to dress more conservatively, and said, “Don’t be so sexy. “The AP declined to disclose details of the interview because reporters could not confirm their claims and aspects of their history contradicted other reports.
In recent months, Reade has put forward the additional charge of the attack and first spoke to progressive podcast host Katie Halper before the New York Times released a detailed review of her claims on Sunday.
Reade’s story of sexual harassment had been spread across both conservative and progressive media for weeks. While Reade said that she supported Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in Democratic Elementary School, she said that her decision to provide new details was not politically motivated.
In her Sunday interview with the AP, Reade said that when she first spoke to reporters over a year ago, she was reluctant to provide details of the attack because she was afraid of setbacks and was still resigned to what had happened to her.
“I’ve already been threatened and smeared and I just wasn’t ready,” she said. “So I talked about sexual harassment and what I liked to talk about, but I wasn’t ready to talk about sexual assault.”
Associate press writers Steve Braun in Washington and Don Thompson in Nevada City, California contributed to this report.