Editor’s be aware: This story incorporates a graphic description of an alleged sexual assault.
Tara Reade, a former junior staffer in Joe Biden’s Senate workplace, has accused the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was working as a workers assistant. The Biden marketing campaign denies the accusation and says the alleged incident “completely didn’t occur.”
Reade detailed her account in a number of conversations with NPR, and it was corroborated by a pal of hers who declined to be recognized. Reade’s brother additionally corroborated some components of her story. No contemporaneous notes or documentation of the alleged incident have been discovered, and Reade’s account has been denied by longtime Biden staffers whom she labored for on the time.
In interviews with NPR, Reade, now 56 and dwelling in California, stated the alleged assault occurred when she was requested by her then-supervisor to ship a duffel bag to Biden as he was heading to the Capitol.
When Reade met up with the senator, she stated, he pinned her up towards a wall and penetrated her vagina along with his fingers.
“His fingers went beneath my clothes and he was touching me in my non-public areas and with out my consent,” Reade instructed NPR. She stated Biden requested her whether or not she wished to go some place else.
Reade stated that she pulled away and that Biden pointed his finger at her and stated, “You are nothing to me, nothing.”
Reade thinks she will need to have responded emotionally, as a result of, she stated, Biden then took her by the shoulders and stated, “You are OK. You are superb. You are OK,” earlier than grabbing his bag and strolling away.
Reade couldn’t recall the precise location or date of the alleged incident however stated it was probably within the basement of a Senate workplace constructing within the spring of 1993.
Courtesy of Tara Reade
Reade says she filed a police report simply over per week in the past with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Division as a result of she was frightened about her security after receiving “on-line harassment.”
The police investigation is at the moment open, although the statute of limitations for prosecuting the alleged assault has expired.
NPR obtained affirmation of the police report from a regulation enforcement supply. A file of the report names Biden. NPR has filed a Freedom of Data Act request for the complete report.
Some particulars of Reade’s account have been inconsistent, and her story has modified over time. In spring 2019, she got here ahead with an account of Biden touching her shoulder and neck in a manner made her really feel uncomfortable, however she by no means talked about sexual assault. Then in late March of this 12 months, she went on a left-leaning podcast, The Katie Halper Present, and gave a graphic account of sexual assault much like what she has instructed NPR. The story took off on left-wing and right-wing corners of the Web.
Some supporters of the previous vp, counsel Reade has a political motive. They’ve tried to discredit her by pointing to her altering story, in addition to her outspoken support for Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s closing presidential main challenger. Reade additionally had demonstrated assist for candidates Elizabeth Warren and Marianne Williamson, each of whom had earlier dropped out of the race.
Different critics have pointed to her effusive on-line posts praising the Russian chief Vladimir Putin; Reade says she was enamored with Russia whereas writing a novel and has publicly walked again these statements. And but others have questioned why, as just lately as 2017, she had taken to the Web to praise Biden.
Reade wonders why any of that info is related in assessing a sexual assault allegation.
“This is not a partisan subject. That is about energy and the abuse of energy, and the folks round that individual that enabled that habits,” she instructed NPR.
Reade described herself as a third-generation Democrat and stated she helps the work Biden did to advocate for the the Violence Towards Girls Act. She’s a home abuse survivor and stated that laws personally helped her.
“Many issues could be true directly. Somebody can do one thing actually superior, then they’ll additionally commit a criminal offense,” Reade stated, describing her conflicting emotions about Biden.
Reade stated she voted for the Obama-Biden ticket twice however doesn’t intend to forged a vote for president this November.
“I personally don’t want Trump to turn out to be president once more. I can’t vote for a Republican,” she stated. “Nevertheless, I’m not going to vote for the one that assaulted me this time … So the place it leaves me is politically homeless, basically.”
Reade’s allegation emerged as Biden was securing his place because the presumptive Democratic nominee to tackle President Trump in November. Greater than a dozen ladies have publicly accused Trump of varied incidents of sexual assault. Reade is the one girl to have publicly accused Biden of sexual assault.
Final spring, earlier than Biden jumped into the presidential race, a former Nevada state legislator named Lucy Flores stated Biden as soon as grabbed her shoulders, sniffed her hair and gave her an undesirable kiss on her head. “His habits wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful,” Flores wrote in March 2019, noting a key distinction. Different complaints of Biden invading ladies’s private area adopted.
Reade was one of many ladies who got here ahead with an identical account then, however didn’t increase an accusation of sexual assault publicly till March of this 12 months.
Reade stated she instructed considered one of her pals concerning the alleged 1993 assault across the time she stated it occurred. That pal, who requested to stay nameless partly to guard her enterprise pursuits, spoke with NPR and corroborated Reade’s description of the assault and its aftermath.
That pal stated she discouraged Reade from going to the police on the time, believing in that period that it will not have resulted in any motion and will have damage Reade professionally.
Reade stated she additionally instructed her mom, who has since handed away, and her brother, Collin Moulton.
Moulton didn’t reply to NPR’s preliminary requests for remark, however in a textual content message on Saturday night time stated he recalled Reade telling him about an incident within the early 1990s that occurred when she was requested to deliver Biden a gymnasium bag.
“They had been alone in a personal space or room. He roughly cornered her towards the wall. He put his fingers ‘underneath her garments.’ My mother wished her to go to the police,” Moulton wrote.
Moulton additionally backed up Reade’s recollection that she was fired. NPR couldn’t in any other case affirm the circumstances of Reade’s departure from the workplace.
Reade stated she by no means instructed anybody in Biden’s workplace concerning the assault, although she stated she did complain about harassment, saying she felt uncomfortable on a number of events due to Biden and his workers. Reade stated Biden would run his fingers via her hair at conferences and stated she was requested to serve drinks at a fundraiser as a result of the senator apparently preferred her legs. Moulton stated in his textual content message that Reade instructed him about such incidents.
NPR spoke with a number of former Biden staffers from the time, and none of them might affirm Reade’s recollections.
Melissa Lefko had the identical job as Reade within the early 1990s, each serving as workers assistants in roughly the identical time interval. Lefko instructed NPR that the place didn’t contain the sort of common interactions with Biden that Reade has at occasions described and that she was by no means requested to take the senator private gadgets or attend fundraisers. Lefko stated the job entailed answering cellphone calls and performing constituent companies.
Lefko added that she doesn’t personally keep in mind Reade and that Reade’s description of the workplace surroundings would not align along with her expertise.
“The tradition of the workplace was very skilled in each manner, with ladies in senior positions at a time when that was not the norm,” stated Lefko. “While you work on the Hill, you recognize who the great guys are and who the dangerous guys are. And Biden was a superb man, and I imply that wholeheartedly.”
Though Reade stated she by no means spoke concerning the assault to anybody on Biden’s workers, she stated she filed a proper written grievance about harassment to a Senate personnel workplace however didn’t obtain any follow-up. She didn’t have a duplicate of the grievance and stated she couldn’t recall the identify of the workplace the place she had filed paperwork.
Reade additionally stated she reported her considerations about harassment to a few folks within the workplace: Biden’s longtime aide, Dennis Toner; his then-chief of workers, Ted Kaufman; and his govt assistant, Marianne Baker. Reade remembers having a number of conversations and conferences with them concerning the alleged harassment.
Each Toner and Kaufman instructed NPR they’d no recollection of Reade. Congressional information affirm she labored within the workplace for about 9 months from December 1992 to August 1993.
“She didn’t come to me,” Kaufman stated. “I might have remembered if she had.”
Kaufman stepped in to fill Biden’s Senate seat when he turned vp in 2009 and stays a detailed confidant.
Toner, who labored for Biden for 34 years, instructed NPR the identical. “I might recall any dialog with any workers member with Senator Biden that was alongside the traces of sexual harassment,” he stated.
“It is one thing that will be so out of character with how you’d describe Joe Biden,” Toner added, reiterating that he has by no means heard some other such complaints from different workers.
Baker labored for Biden for 18 years and, in an announcement despatched from the Biden marketing campaign, stated she took her duties associated to human sources very critically: “In all my years working for Senator Biden, I by no means as soon as witnessed, or heard of, or obtained, any studies of inappropriate conduct, interval — not from Ms. Reade, not from anybody. I’ve completely no data or reminiscence of Ms. Reade’s accounting of occasions, which might have left a searing impression on me as a girl skilled, and as a supervisor. These clearly false allegations are in full contradiction to each the inside workings of our Senate workplace and to the person I do know and labored so carefully with for nearly 20 years.”
Biden’s deputy marketing campaign supervisor Kate Bedingfield additionally put out an announcement disputing the allegation: “Vice President Biden has devoted his public life to altering the tradition and the legal guidelines round violence towards ladies. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Towards Girls Act. He firmly believes that ladies have a proper to be heard — and heard respectfully. Such claims also needs to be diligently reviewed by an impartial press. What is obvious about this declare: it’s unfaithful. This totally didn’t occur.”
Biden himself has not responded to the allegation, a degree of explicit frustration for Reade.
Within the weeks earlier than he launched his candidacy final 12 months, when Biden confronted accusations of contact that was stated to be undesirable however not sexual in nature, his response to these complaints appeared uneven. The previous vp stated he acknowledged that social norms had modified, and he launched a video saying that he can be “extra aware about respecting private area sooner or later.” However he additionally joked about having permission to hug folks at a union occasion days later.
Biden’s marketing campaign and his surrogates have been cautious in denying this new allegation, making an attempt to not personally discredit Reade. Ever for the reason that #MeToo motion erupted, Democrats together with Biden have been insisting that society ought to consider ladies, however they’re grappling with what which means.
When requested about Reade’s allegation, some allies have pointed to Biden’s legislative file on these points. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., additionally a former presidential candidate, instructed NPR final week, “All ladies in these circumstances have the proper to be heard and have their claims completely reviewed.”
Cheryl W. Thompson contributed reporting. Elena Moore contributed analysis. Edited by Arnie Seipel.