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Former member of Joe Biden's staff says presumptive nominee sexually assaulted her in 1993

Posted at 1:49 PM, Apr 14, 2020

WASHINGTON — A former aide to Joe Biden is accusing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her during the early 1990s when he was a senator.

Tara Reade filed a police report in Washington on Thursday, saying she was sexually assaulted by an unnamed person in 1993. Reade told The Associated Press that Biden was the unnamed person.

Biden's campaign denies the charges.

Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told the AP that Biden firmly believes that "women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully," but said that Reade's accusation is "untrue" and "absolutely did not happen."

In the course of two interviews with The Associated Press, Tara Reade alleged the assault occurred in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in the spring of 1993. She said that she was asked by a supervisor to bring the then-Senator his gym bag to the Capitol gym. When she encountered Biden in a hallway, she told The Associated Press that "Biden pushed her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building, groped her and penetrated her with his fingers."

Reade told the AP that she pulled away from Biden, who looked "shocked and surprised." Biden responded by saying, "I heard you liked me."

Reade also told The Associated Press that she raised concerns about Biden's sexual harassment — but not assault — with Biden's staff at the time, but nothing came of it. She said after notifying her superiors, her job responsibilities were scaled back.

The AP spoke with five former staff members who were with Biden's team at the time, none of whom could recall the incident. However, the AP did speak to two of Reade's friends — one of whom verified that Reade told them about the alleged assault shortly after it happened. The second friend, whom Reade met about a decade after the alleged assault, says Reade told her about the incident in 2007 or 2008.

Reade also said she filed a report with the Senate personnel office, but said she does not have a copy of the report. The AP also said it could not verify the existence of the Senate personnel report.

Reade's allegation is not the first time Biden's conduct around women has been questioned during the 2020 campaign cycle. Last year, prior to announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, Biden said he would be "more mindful" of his behavior after four women came forward to say that he had touched them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. Those allegations involved unwanted hugging, invasion of personal space, and unwanted kisses on the head (but not the mouth).

The 2020 presidential election will be the first since the #MeToo movement empowered dozens of women to speak out about sexual assault and harassment from men in power. President Donald Trump faced several allegations of sexual assault and harassment during the 2016 presidential campaign, and an unaired clip that leaked during the time from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" showed him bragging about assaulting women.