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The sexual allegations against Joe Biden: The corroborators

How politicians react to such charges often appears to reflect who is being accused. Democrats are quick to jump on allegations about Republicans. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
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“When journalists write about incidents that occurred long ago, especially serious allegations such as sexual misconduct, a key goal is to find people who will say that they heard about the incident at the time.”

That’s what we wrote back in 2016, when we first put together a list of the allegations of sexual misconduct against former president Bill Clinton and then-candidate Donald Trump during the presidential campaign. We later expanded the list for Trump in 2017, eventually reaching a total of 16 women, after more allegations emerged. (See the video below.)

As we noted, contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chances that a person is making up a story for political purposes. In the case of sexual allegations, such accounts can help bolster the credibility of the “she said” side of the equation. Often, a sexual assault will happen behind closed doors. The contemporary corroborators can explain what they heard at the time and whether the story being told now is consistent with how the story was told years earlier. This does not necessarily mean the allegation is true, but it does give a journalistic organization more confidence to report on the allegation.

Now, a serious allegation of sexual misconduct has emerged against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. A number of women have said Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate displays of affection, but this claim goes further and says a sexual assault took place.

The Biden campaign has issued a statement from deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield: “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.” On May 1, Biden issued a statement in his own name --the allegations “aren’t true. This never happened” -- and then repeated the denial in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe:“ "It never, never happened.”

Allegations of sexual misconduct concerning politicians often emerge piecemeal, with different news organizations running their own investigations. The Washington Post ran a lengthy article on the Biden allegation on April 12, but more details have emerged since then.

As a reader service, here are the details of the allegation and the corroborating evidence that so far has emerged, following the same format as we did with the claims concerning Trump and Clinton. We will continue to update this article as warranted.

Tara Reade

Allegation: In 1993, when she was a 29-year-old staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office, Biden pinned her against a wall, reached under her skirt and pushed his fingers inside her. When she resisted, Biden appeared annoyed and said, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me.” She said that after telling her supervisors in the office that she had been sexually harassed by Biden, supervisors ostracized her and she was eventually told to find another job. Several news organizations, including The Post, had interviewed Reade in 2019, and she had said then only that he made her uncomfortable by touching her neck and shoulders. Reade says she was afraid to talk about the incident in greater detail at the time.


Lynda LaCasse, Reade’s neighbor in the mid-1990s. “I remember her saying, here was this person [Biden] that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse told Business Insider. “And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.” LaCasse, who described herself as a strong Democrat and a Biden supporter, lived next door to Reade in 1995 and 1996 in an apartment complex in Morro Bay, Calif. She said Reade mentioned the alleged assault during a late-night chat. “She was crying,” she said. “She was upset.”

Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of California state Sen. Jack O’Connell from 1994 to 1996. Reade said “she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC,” Sanchez told Business Insider, “and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.” Sanchez did not recall if Reade mentioned Biden or whether she detailed the type of harassment that allegedly took place. “What I do remember is reassuring her that nothing like that would ever happen to her here in our office, that she was in a safe place, free from any sexual harassment,” Sanchez said.

Collin Moulton, Reade’s brother. He originally told The Post that Reade had told him in 1993 that Biden had behaved inappropriately by touching her neck and shoulders. “A few days after that interview, Moulton sent [a] text saying he wanted to clarify his remarks,” The Post reported. “He wrote that he recalled Reade telling him in the early 1990s that Biden had cornered her and put his hands under her clothes.”

Jeanette Altimus, Reade’s mother. Reade has told interviewers she confided in her mother at time of the alleged assault. Her mother died in 2016. But Reade had recalled that her mother had called CNN’s “Larry King Live” and anonymously described trouble her daughter had had with a senator. The Intercept unearthed the 1993 video clip, in which an unnamed woman from San Luis Obispo, Calif., told King that her daughter 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.” The caller did not provide further details. Reade told the Intercept the voice on the call was her mother’s. Her mother at the time lived in San Luis Obispo County.

Unnamed friends. Some people were quoted anonymously as supportive of Reade’s recollection and obviously may overlap. The Washington Post quoted “a friend, a former intern for another lawmaker,” as corroborating Reade’s account of their conversation. The New York Times reported that “a friend” said she learned of the alleged assault from Reade in 1993 and that a “second friend” recalled Reade “telling her in 2008 that Mr. Biden had touched her inappropriately and that she’d had a traumatic experience while working in his office.” The Associated Press also reported similar conversations with two friends of Reade’s.

The president says he's "very happy" sexual misconduct by powerful men is being "exposed." He denies all of the allegations against him. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

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