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Who Is Joe Biden's Accuser? Former Staffer Tara Reade Makes Sexual Assault Claims Against Democratic Presidential Nominee

Joe Biden

In the past few days, multiple news outlets have published reports about sexual assault accusations against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — though some major news outlets waited to report on said allegations, which was met with criticism. Tara Reade, who worked for Biden in the 1990s, claimshe assaulted her in a Senate hallway when she was on his staff in 1993. In her account, he put his hand under her clothes and touched her genitals without her consent. 

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Biden has fielded public complaints from women, including Reade, who objected to his tendency to hug people without asking for their permission. She was part of a 2019 story about multiple women who had felt uncomfortable with Biden's behavior, which was a wake-up call for the former Vice President. Now, a year later, she has added shocking new details to her story.

Who is Joe Biden's accuser Tara Reade? 

Who is Tara Reade? She's a writer and former Senate staffer. 

In a now-deleted 2018 Medium post, Reade wrote that she left politics to pursue a career in the arts. She headed to Hollywood for a time to try and get her foot in the door there. She also said that she walked away from American politics because she loves "Russia with all my heart" and didn't like the anti-Russian bias she saw in US policy.

She pursued her love of Russia in study and art, writing a novel about the country. She has also expressed a deep admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing, "President Putin scares the power elite in America because he is a compassionate, caring, visionary leader. President Putin has higher approval ratings in America then [sic] the American President. President Putin is beloved by Russia and he not going anywhere. Instead of being ensnared in the recent political intrigues (and America is trying hard to set that trap). President Putin is keeping a calm focus on his own country’s development and future, without America. To President Putin, I say keep your eyes to the beautiful future and maybe, just maybe America will come to see Russia as I do, with eyes of love."

In 2020, she explained her pro-Putin sentiment as being a result of an Oliver Stone documentary on the Russian leader as well as her immersive research on Russia for the book she was writing. 

She lived under an assumed name for years.

At one time in her past, Reade needed to escape from an abusive partner and she changed her name, an entirely understandable choice to make in the circumstances. The name change has been verified by multiple media reports. Her previous name obviously hasn't been made public so there is a big blank spot in what we know about her history. Without knowledge of her alternate name, there is no way to find out what she did for work or what other activities she was engaged in at that time. 

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What does Reade allege Biden did to her?

In 2019, Reade was one of a number of women who came forward to complain about Biden's well-known penchant for hugging and touching people. At the time, she said he would put his hands on her neck and run fingers along her skin in ways that made her uncomfortable. Her account was similar to other women who didn't take kindly to being hugged or touched by Biden. Biden responded to the revelations by saying that going forward, he would be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space." 

However, in a 2020 podcast interview, Reade described a much more serious incident that she had even spoken about before. She recalled being asked to track down Biden to hand him a gym bag. She claims to have caught up with him in a hallway of a Senate office building, though she can't recall the specifics of the location. "The gym bag, I don’t know where it went," she said. "I handed it to him. It was gone and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And then he went down my skirt, but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers. And he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me."

She recalled him saying, "Do you want to go somewhere else?" She moved away from him and she alleges he responded by saying, "Come on man, I heard you liked me." Biden then allegedly patted her shoulder and said "You're okay. You're fine," before walking away. 

Reade was on Biden's staff for just under a year.

According to news reports, Reade worked for Biden for about eight months in 1992 and 1993. Staff who worked for Biden at the time can verify this time frame for her employment. Reports don't list an official title for her but only refer to her job as a staff assistant position. She recalls that she was in charge of supervising interns for the Senator's office, though she also says that responsibility was taken away after the incident with Biden. At least one former intern from the time recalls her doing that job while he was and he also recalls that she was suddenly no longer interacting with the interns shortly after they all started, though he had no idea what the reason for that was at the time. 

Why didn't she say anything at the time?

It's not uncommon for victims of assault to keep quiet about what happened. They all have their own reasons for that and silence is not evidence of anything other than a person not wanting to discuss a trauma. But Reade says she wasn't silent at the time at all. In interviews, Reade says she told her mother what happened and her mother urged her to make a police report. Reade's mother passed away in 2016. 

A close friend from the time who has not been named in media reports also recalls Reade telling her about a traumatic sexual incident involving Biden at the time it allegedly happened. Reade says she told her brother Collin Moulton as well and he verified in media interviews that she said Biden touched her on her neck in ways that she didn't like. In the days after his interviews with reporters, he reached out via text to say he also recalled his sister saying Biden put his hands under her clothes. 

Reade says she talked to her supervisors at work as well.

Moreover, Reade says she spoke to staff in Biden's office about Biden harassing her, though she does not seem to have made the specific claim about the incident in the hallway. She says she also filed a report with the Senate personnel office. Unlike her friends and family, the office staff don't have a memory of this taking place. In a statement, Biden's Senate executive assistant, whom Reade named in her account of reporting the incident said “In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone. I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager. These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.”

So far, no one has been able to verify the report Reade claims to have made to the Senate personnel office.

Reade did file a police report in Washington, DC last week. She didn't mention Biden by name in the report and she knows no action will be taken because it falls outside the statute of limitations. In a tweet, she said she filed the report for "safety reasons" but didn't elaborate. 

Reade continues to tweet about the incident. 

Biden himself hasn't directly addressed this story. However, Kate Bedingfield, one of his deputy campaign managers, said in a statement: “Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. 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.”

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.