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Former President Barack Obama, who has remained neutral for the entirety of the 2020 Democratic primary, endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden.


WASHINGTON – It’s been about a month since Tara Reade, a former staffer to Joe Biden when he served in the Senate, publicly aired her allegation of sexual assault against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Reade claims that Biden assaulted her in the Capitol building in 1993, when she worked as an aide. Biden’s campaign has denied the assault took place and encouraged the press to investigate, though the candidate has yet to react publicly to Reade’s allegation.

Meanwhile, additional people who say they were told about the alleged assault around that time have come forward to corroborate Reade’s story. On Monday, Business Insider reported that a former neighbor of Reade’s from the 1990s and a former coworker in a California state senator’s office recalled Reade describing parts of her account.

Tara Reade’s claim: Former Senate staffer accuses Joe Biden of sexual assault

The assault allegation now lingers as Biden all but certainly claims the nomination and picks up endorsements from major figures like former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and his biggest competitor in the 2020 race, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Here’s what we know about it so far:

Who is Tara Reade?

Tara Reade worked for Biden for about eight months in 1992 and 1993 as an assistant, which included supervising interns, according to reporting by The New York Times. It was in the spring of ’93 that Reade says Biden assaulted her.

After Reade says she complained to supervisors about harassment, but not assault, she had her responsibilities scaled back as a result until she was eventually told to find a new job. In interviews with the Associated Press and The New York Times, Reade was inconsistent in naming the supervisor who told her to move on. Former Biden staffers in supervising roles at the time interviewed by news outlets say they don’t recall a report of that nature ever being filed or discussing it with her. 

“I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period – not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” Biden’s former executive assistant Marianne Baker told AP in a statement through his campaign.

Reade is now a single mother who changed her name after fleeing an abusive marriage in the late 1990s, the Times reported. She has since worked as an advocate for domestic violence survivors and for animal rescue organizations.

What are the allegations?

A year ago, Reade spoke to media about claims Biden had inappropriately touched her while she worked for him in the Senate, as part of a group of eight women who said Biden had a habit of inappropriate physical displays of affection. At the time, Reade didn’t mention the assault and Biden said he’d be “more mindful.”

But last month, Reade said first on “The Katie Halper Show” and in subsequent media interviews that while she was tasked with delivering a gym bag to the former senator, Biden pinned her against a wall and digitally penetrated her without her consent in the basement of a Capitol Hill office. 

“He was whispering to me and trying to kiss me at the same time, and he was saying, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’” Reade told AP. “I remember wanting to say stop, but I don’t know if I said it out loud or if I just thought it. I was kind of frozen up.”

When she pulled away, Reade says Biden looked surprised and said, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me.”

Reade said she wasn’t aware of any witnesses to the incident but that she filed a report in the Senate and complained to supervisors. She claims she was retaliated against, but former Biden employees dispute that.

What is Biden’s side of the story?

Biden’s campaign has expressly denied he assaulted Reade and pointed to his work “changing the culture and the laws around violence against women.”

“He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard – and heard respectfully. 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,” said deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield in a statement to AP. 

The campaign did not provide additional comments in light of the most recent reporting on Reade’s claim. The candidate himself has not yet spoken publicly about Reade.

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Reade has lambasted members of the news media for not asking Biden to address her claim during television interviews, making comparisons to the way the public reacted to allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation proceedings in 2018.

“I guess my question is, if this were Donald Trump, would they treat it the same way? If this were Brett Kavanaugh, did they treat it the same way?” Reade said to Fox News. “In other words, it’s politics and political agenda playing a role in objective reporting and asking the question.”

Is there any evidence to support Reade’s accusation?

Reade doesn’t recall anyone witnessing the alleged incident, but multiple people say they remember her describing it to them well before she told her story publicly. An anonymous friend and her brother told news outlets earlier this month that she had told them about a claim against Biden. This week two additional people now say they remembered conversations with Reade about it.

A former neighbor in the mid-1990s, Lynda LaCasse, says she is a Democrat who intends to vote for Biden, but decided to speak out about her recollection of Reade’s story because she believed it when she first heard it.

“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” LaCasse told Business Insider.

Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade between 1994 and 1996 for a state senator, said Reade told her about being sexually harassed by “her former boss while she was in D.C. and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.” Sanchez did not remember if Reade specifically named Biden.

Additionally, Reade says she told her mother about what happened, but she died a few years ago. Reade recalled that her mother had called in to “Larry King Live” to ask for advice about the treatment her daughter received in 1993. Over the weekend, a clip of what Reade says is her mother’s voice on the line with Larry King was unearthed by The Intercept.

The woman on the call told King that her daughter had just left Washington, “after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”

Report: Biden accuser spoke to neighbor of alleged assault

As for the report Reade says she filed when she worked for Biden, media investigations haven’t confirmed its existence. Reade believes it may be within the collection of records from Biden’s Senate days that are housed at the University of Delaware, closed for viewing until two years after he retires from public life. She has called on the former vice president to allow access to the records.

Earlier this month Reade filed a police report saying she was assaulted in 1993, without naming Biden, in order to give herself safety from threats she has received.

“I also wanted to make it clear that I would be willing to go under oath or cooperate with any law enforcement regarding it, because it did happen,” she told Insider, which reported the investigation has now been “moved to an inactive status,” unsurprising to Reade.

Why now?

Reade’s story has been shared by figures on the right and left alike, with many calling for Biden to drop out of the race. She had supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders for president before they both suspended their campaigns, she told AP. But she says her motives for coming forward aren’t political.

Reade didn’t share her story publicly while Biden was previously in the White House because, she told the Intercept’s Ryan Grim, she didn’t want the story to impact her then-teenage daughter, and because she liked Obama. Additionally, she said she didn’t know how to come forward in a pre-#MeToo era.

Reade told AP she didn’t reveal the alleged assault last year when discussing the claim about inappropriate touching because she was afraid of the repercussions.

“I’d like to be heard in a fair and objective way,” she told Insider. “And I’d also like to hear Joe Biden’s response, which has not happened. My hope is that the conversation will move forward and we will examine how I was treated when I came forward, and really look at the fact that, like domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment is not a partisan issue. It is an equal-opportunity offender.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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