Democratic presidential candidate, Vice President Joe Biden, has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in the early 90s.
Biden’s denial comes more than three weeks after Tara Reade alleged that he forcibly penetrated her with his fingers in a Senate building in 1993 while she was working as an aide.
“They aren’t true,” said Biden in a statement issued on Friday. “This never happened.”
Since Reade’s allegations were made, a number of her friends have come forward to corroborate her story, saying that . Reade told them about the incident after it happened in the 1990s.
Lynda LaCasse, Reade’s former neighbor, has said that she reported the incident to her in 1995 or 1996.
“I don’t remember all the details,” LaCasse said. “I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated.”
Up until now, Biden has remained noticeably silent on the matter. Instead of addressing the allegations directly himself, Biden had denied these allegations through campaign members as well as through the backing of various high profile women.
“I’m satisfied with how he’s responded,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I’m very proud to endorse him”.
Last week, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed Biden’s presidential campaign and praised his history of fighting against sexual violence.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, who is rumoured to be a possible candidate for Biden’s running mate, also voiced support for the former vice president.
“The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible,” said Abrams. “I believe Joe Biden”.
Some inconsistencies have been pointed out in Reade’s allegations. She alleged that shortly after the incident, she complained to Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant, as well as to top aides Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman. However, all three of these people have categorically denied having received any such complaint.
Reade initially alleged last year that Biden had made her feel uncomfortable by inappropriately touching her shoulder. It was only in March this year that Reade alleged that Biden had sexually assaulted her.
But Reade said that the reporter with whom she first shared allegations of Biden’s inappropriate behaviour had made her feel uncomfortable and she was “shut down” from sharing the details of the full extent of Biden’s assault.
Reade said that she filed a formal harassment complaint in 1993 with the congressional personnel office. Biden has said that if such a complaint were filed, then there would be a record in the National Archives. Biden has requested that the National Archives release any documents that may relate to such a complaint.
However, since Biden made this request on Friday, Reade has now said that the complaint she filed actually did not contain allegations of “harassment”.
Biden has not offered to release records from his Senate career which he donated to the University of Delaware in 2012. These records are currently sealed until Biden retires from public life – a usual agreement in such arrangements.
When pressed to make these documents public, Biden has responded that these records do not contain any personnel records and so would not contain any information about the alleged complaint. However, Biden has said that these documents contain other sensitive information which may be unfairly exploited against his current presidential campaign.
Democrats, as well as various prominent women’s organizations, have been criticized for hypocrisy in their handling of the allegations against Biden as opposed to those against Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, and President Donald Trump. Critics have said that Democrats who were quick to believe Kavanaugh’s and Trump’s accusers, have hesitated to believe Reade.
Both 2020 Presidential candidates now have allegations of sexual assault against them. This is the first allegation of sexual assault against Biden. There are over a dozen allegations against Trump.