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Around this time last year, Tara Reade was one of several women who’d said former Vice President Joe Biden of touching them in inappropriate, uncomfortable ways. But in late March, Reade appeared on podcaster Katie Halper’s show with a much more serious accusation: that Biden had sexually assaulted her in 1993.
Reade, who worked in Biden’s office back when he was a senator from Delaware, went a step further this week and filed a public incident report with Washington, D.C. police about a 1993 sexual assault. The report, which VICE News has viewed, doesn’t name Biden, but Reade told the New York Times that it’s about him. While the criminal statute of limitations has expired in Washington, D.C., Reade tweeted that she filed the report “for safety reasons only.”
Confusion over her evolving account is rife. When Reade came forward last year, she didn’t mention the assault allegation. Now, her version of events — and, in particular, the reason Reade said she was driven out of Biden’s office — has publicly shifted. Reade has said she told multiple people in Biden’s office that he’d harassed her, but they don’t recall that.
Biden’s campaign has vigorously denied the allegation and pointed to his long support of the Violence Against Women Act as proof of his dedication to improving women’s lives.
“He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully,” Kate Bedingfield, a deputy Biden campaign manager, said in a statement to the Times. “Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment about the filing of the report.
Now, Biden is all but certain to become the Democratic nominee and take on President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 20 women.
What are Reade’s allegations?
In 1993, Reade was in her 20s and working in then-Sen. Biden’s office. When she first talked to the Union, a news outlet in Nevada County, California in April 2019, she said that Biden sometimes touched her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. On one occasion, he put his finger on her neck when they were near a group of interns. On another, Reade heard that Biden wanted her to serve drinks at an event because he liked her legs. Reade declined — a move that, she said at the time, torpedoed her career.
But, since her interview with Halper, Reade has publicly told a different story about the end of her time in Biden’s office. In the spring of 1993, she’s said, Reade approached Biden in the Senate office complex to deliver a gym bag. The two were alone.
That’s when, Reade said, Biden pushed her up against the wall and started kissing her.
“It happened all at once. The gym bag — I don’t know where it went, I handed it to him, it was gone, and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade told Halper on her podcast. “He went down my skirt but then up inside it. And he penetrated me with his fingers.”
Biden also asked Reade if she wanted to go somewhere else, Reade told Halper. But when she pulled back, Biden told her, “‘C’mon man, I heard you liked me.’”
“For me, it was like everything shattered in that moment,” Reade said.
Reade said Biden pointed at her and said, “You’re nothing to me.” He then assured her that she was okay.
Why is Reade coming forward now?
In a March interview with Salon, Reade said that she considered telling the California outlet about the alleged sexual assault. But when Reade talked to the reporter, the “way he asked the questions … shut me down.” (That journalist didn’t return Salon’s request for comment.)
After speaking out after the inappropriate touching, Reade said she was battered by online attacks and harassment. That also led her to stay silent.
Reade also tried approaching the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund about Biden in January. The fund ultimately declined to provide assistance to pursue a claim against him, reportedly because Biden is running for a federal office and aiding a case against him could risk the fund’s nonprofit status. Reade, who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ run for president, eventually connected with Halper, who supports Sanders, through Twitter.
Is anyone backing up Reade’s story?
One friend, who has not been named, has said that Reade told her about the alleged assault at the time. Another unnamed friend told the Times that Reid said in 2008 that she’d had a traumatic experience while working for Biden and that he’d touched her inappropriately.
Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, also told the Intercept that Reade had told him and their mother about the incident at the time. (Reade’s mother has since died.)
“Woefully, I did not encourage her to follow up,” Moulton told the Intercept. “I wasn’t one of her better advocates. I said, ‘Let it go, move on, guys are idiots.’”
Reade said she told three people in Biden’s office that Biden had harassed her: two aides, Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman, as well as Biden’s executive assistant Marianne Baker. But she didn’t tell these people about the alleged assault.
While Reade said she also filed a written complaint about Biden’s behavior with the Senate, the Times couldn’t find a copy of it.
Kaufman, who remains Biden’s friend, told the Times that Reade never came to him. Toner said he also didn’t remember Reade’s complaint. And in a statement issued through Biden’s campaign, Baker said that no one ever complained to her about Biden’s inappropriate conduct.
After she spoke up in 1993, Reade said, she was sidelined in Biden’s office. She lost most of her duties and was relegated to working in a windowless office. Two interns confirmed to the Times that Reade abruptly stopped managing them, though they had no knowledge of any report of inappropriate conduct by Biden.
Eventually, Kaufman told Reade that she had a month to find another job, Reade told the Times. Reade never worked on Capitol Hill again.
Cover: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the Jill and Joe Biden 2020 Super Tuesday Los Angeles Rally held at the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center on March 3, 2020 in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)