Joe Biden denies sexual assault claims

Special Joe Biden denies sexual assault claims
US presidential candidate Joe Biden has denied sexually assaulting a former staffer, saying the incident she claims occurred in 1993 “never happened”. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 May 2020
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Joe Biden denies sexual assault claims

Joe Biden denies sexual assault claims
  • The presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden denied allegations from a former staffer who says he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago
  • Tara Reade, who worked for the then-senator in 1993, told several media outlets that he had sexually assaulted her in an empty corridor on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, DC: Breaking his month-long silence for the first time, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden denied allegations from a former staffer who says he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago. “They aren’t true. This never happened,” Biden said in a statement. 

Tara Reade, who worked for the then-senator in 1993, told several media outlets that he had sexually assaulted her in an empty corridor on Capitol Hill. She had previously accused him of inappropriate touching. 

In the dozen interviews Biden has conducted since then, no one asked him about the allegations. 

And journalists were often referred to a statement issued by his campaign vehemently rejecting the accusations as false. 

But further investigations led two new witnesses to come forward in support of Reade’s narrative, including a pro-Biden former neighbor to Reade who recalled the details of her assault. 

That has exerted more pressure on Biden to publicly address the issue, which is increasingly seen as detrimental to his campaign, especially for a candidate who has put “character” and “honesty” as a central issue in this election. 

In 2018, during the controversial nomination hearings of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, when he was accused by two women of sexual misconduct, Biden was unequivocal that the women should be believed.

“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts,” Biden had said.  

Reade is going on national TV on Sunday to tell her story again. Using Biden’s own words, an MSNBC anchor asked the former vice president whether the American public should start off with the presumption that the essence of what Reade is talking about is real.

Biden answered that women’s claims should be vetted, and repeated that in Reade’s case, such claims are not true. 

In his statement, he said Reade’s story has changed repeatedly “in small and big ways.” He added: “While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.” 

Reade said she filed a complaint in 1993 with the Senate’s human resources department, but media outlets have not been able to track it down. 

Biden says there is one place a complaint of this kind could be found: The National Archives. 

He requested that the secretary of the Senate ask the National Archives to produce any record of a complaint Reade alleged she filed, and make it available to the press. 

He said he is prepared for such a document to be made public, reiterating that “to the best of my knowledge,” there has not been one complaint made against him in his 40-year career.

Reade believes the complaint is in Biden’s archives at the University of Delaware where, as is the practice of senators, he has established a library of personal papers that document his public records. 

But under repeated questioning from the MSNBC anchor, Biden refused to authorize the university to run a search for Reade’s name within the files. 

And the university says it will not release the records until two years after Biden has retired from public life. 

This is likely to spark even more controversy over the issue in the coming days and weeks.