What we know about sexual assault allegation against Biden

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, denied on May 1 an allegation by a former Senate aide, Tara Reade, who says he sexually assaulted her in 1993. “I’m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened.” It was the first time Biden has publicly addressed the allegation, which has caused angst among Democratic Party officials and voters alike as the former Vice President campaigns to unseat President Donald Trump, who has himself been accused of sexual assault by at least 17 women. In a phone interview with TIME on May 1, Reade said she had no comment on Biden’s Morning Joe appearance but described her decision to come forward. She says she later graduated from the Seattle University School of Law, though she never took the bar exam, and has worked as a behavior therapist for special-needs children and as an expert witness. She says she supported Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. And during that time I wasn’t ready to come forward with what happened to me.” As the Democratic presidential race was getting underway in the spring of 2019, Reade was one of eight women who came forward in quick succession to allege that Biden had touched them inappropriately, made them feel uncomfortable, or invaded their personal space in the past. “He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade told the Union of Nevada County, Calif., in a story published April 3, 2019. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.” Shedescribed an office atmosphere that objectified women, including one incident where she says she was asked to serve drinks because Biden liked her legs. I hear what they’re saying, I understand it, and I’ll be much more mindful.” Reade spoke to several news organizations in the wake of her initial allegations about inappropriate touching. The Associated Press has stated that it did not publish her story at the time because “reporters were unable to corroborate her allegations, and aspects of her story contradicted other reporting.” The Washington Post, which also did not then publish her story, saidthat Reade “did not mention the alleged assault or suggest there was more to the story.” On March 25, 2020, The Katie Halper Show, a progressive podcast, first released an excerpt from an interview Reade conducted with Halper in which she made new allegations against Biden. This conversation came in the wake of a report the previous day by The Intercept that detailed how Reade had approached Time’s Up, an organization that works with women who come forward withsexual harassment, assault or discrimination stories; the Intercept report asserted that the group declined to fund Reade’s complaint against Biden. On May 2, Reade told the Associated Press that while filing a separate, formal complaint with a congressional personnel office, she “chickened out” before completing the report. Reade told TIME that she did not come forward with her story until recently because she’d become immersed in raising her daughter and pursuing her career. Reade’s former colleague Lorraine Sanchez told Business Insider that she recalls Reade discussing sexual harassment by a former boss in D.C. Reade’s brother told the Post for a report published April 12 that he remembered his sister telling him that Biden had been “inappropriate.” Days after his interview with the Post, he added that he remembered his sister saying that Biden had put his hands under her clothes. Business Insider also spoke with a former neighbor of Reade’s, Lynda LaCasse, who recalls Reade describing details of the alleged assault in the mid-1990s. “I said, ‘Do whatever you want to do, but I would not unless you’re ready to leave D.C., because every job interview you go into here forward, you won’t be the person who researched legislation for an animal-rights bill or a battered-womenbill. You’re going to be the woman who filed a police report against a sitting senator.” Reade says she told her late mother about the incident. In late-April, The Intercept uncovered a tape of an anonymous woman calling into CNN’s Larry King show about her daughter’s “problems” working for a prominent senator. A third, Marianne Baker, then Biden’s executive assistant, told the Times in a statement thatshe had “absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.” No physical evidence or eyewitnesses about the alleged attack have surfaced, and no contemporary formal documentation of her complaint has been found. After weeks of relying on a prepared statement from his campaign that denied the incident, Biden spoke about the allegations for the first time in his May 1 interview on Morning Joe. It never happened.” Interviewer Mika Brzezinski quoted Biden’s past statements that women who come forward alleging sexual assault should be believed. “Look, from the very beginning, I’ve said believing women means taking the woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward, and then vet it, look into it,” the former Vice President said. She has a right to say whatever she wants to say, but I have a right to saylook at the facts, check it out, find out whether any of what she says, has asserted, are true.” On May 1, Biden urged the Secretary of the Senate to search the National Archive for records of the complaint Reade said she filed. Reade’s story has been amplified by Republicans, some members of the #MeToo feminist movement and some supporters of Sanders, Biden’s top rival for the Democratic nomination. Conservatives in particular have pointed out what they see as a media double standard, noting Democrats urged the public to “Believe Women” as a #MeToo rallying cry and pointing out that Reade’sallegations have been treated differently than those made by Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as ateenager. Some #MeToo activists, like actress Rose McGowan, have been vocally supportive of Reade, and called on Biden to end his campaign. Other #MeToo leaders acknowledged the difficulty of Reade’s allegation at a moment when Biden has emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee against a President who has been accused of sexual assault by at least 17 women. Trump, who was caught ontape in 2016 bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” was most recently accused of rape by writer E. Jean Carroll, who is seeking his DNA in a lawsuit. Tarana Burke, one of the founders of the #MeToo movement, tweeted: “The inconvenient truth is that this story is impacting us differently because it hits at the heart of one of the most important elections of our lifetime.