Tara Reade alleges the former vice president sexually assaulted her in 1993

By Sean Neumann
April 29, 2020 11:52 AM
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From left: former Vice President Joe Bide and Tara Reade (in an undated photo)
| Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty; Tara Reade/Twitter

Two people came forward this week saying they can back up Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s — an allegation the Biden campaign and some of his aides from that period, who were also Reade's co-workers, vigorously deny.

In an article published Monday, a former neighbor and a former colleague of Reade from another job spoke with Business Insider and corroborated different parts of her story, which includes alleged harassment and assault while she worked as a junior staffer in Biden's Senate office in late 1992 and much of 1993.

"I don't remember all the details," Lynda LaCasse, who lived in the same apartment complex as Reade, told Business Insider. "I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated."

LaCasse said that Reade told her about the alleged Biden assault one night in either 1995 or 1996 while outside their shared apartment complex in Morro Bay, California.

"We were talking about violent stories because I had a violent situation," LaCasse, now 60, told Business Insider. "We just started talking about things and she just told me about the senator that she had worked for and he put his hand up her skirt."

"I have to support her just because that's what happened," LaCasse said. "We need to stand up and tell the truth."

Reade, now 56, claims Biden, 77, kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers her in '93 while she was a staff assistant; she was 29 and he was 50.

Not so, said a Biden spokeswoman.

“He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully,” Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. “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.”

A second woman who spoke with Business Insider, Lorraine Sanchez, worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator from '94 to '96.

Sanchez told Insider that Reade said "she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in D.C. and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go — fired."

Sanchez said she couldn't remember further details of Reade's allegation but that it was clear Reade was referring to Biden.

Reade and other women accused Biden of inappropriate touching last year around the time the former vice president announced his 2020 presidential campaign and stepped back into the political spotlight. Those other women did not say Biden sexually assaulted them.

Reade originally told a local newspaper in April 2019 that when she worked in Biden’s Senate office, he crossed a line by touching her on the shoulder and neck, and he wanted her to essentially waitress at an event to show off her legs for him.

Last month, Reade alleged on The Katie Halper Show podcast that there was more to her story. She told Halper that Biden had assaulted her in '93.

Speaking with Halper as well as in interviews with the Associated PressThe New York TimesNBC News and other outlets earlier this month, Reade said Biden used his fingers to abuse her under her skirt after she met with the then-senator to give him a gym bag while at work.

“The gym bag, I don’t know where it went, I handed it to him and it was gone,” Reade told Halper. “And 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.”

Reade said Biden was kissing her and asked, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” before she pulled away from him. Biden looked “almost puzzled or shocked,” she told the Times, and said, “Come on, man. I heard you liked me.”

Reade told The Washington Post she did not remember the exact location of their alleged encounter on Capitol Hill nearly 30 years ago but that they were in semi-private.

The public portion of a report Reade filed earlier this month with Washington, D.C., police states only that she said “she was the victim of a sexual assault.” According to the complaint, obtained by PEOPLE, she said it occurred between March and May of 1993. She reportedly worked in Biden's office from December 1992 to August 1993.

Tara Reade in April
| Credit: Max Whittaker/The New York Times/Redux

Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has not directly addressed the allegations.

His campaign this week referred PEOPLE back to the earlier denial from Bedingfield, which also touted Biden's work supporting women through the Violence Against Women Act and other initiatives.

Separately, a video was recently unearthed of an unidentified woman calling into CNN's Larry King Live in August 1993. In the clip, the woman briefly retells how her daughter was apparently mistreated while working for "a prominent senator."

Reade told Insider that the woman was her mother, who has since died.

The woman did not name Biden when speaking with King or be more specific beyond saying, "My daughter has just left there [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.

Conflicting Accounts Support Biden

In addition to the denial of Reade’s account, Biden’s campaign provided a statement from Marianne Baker, who worked as his executive assistant from 1982 to 2010.

Reade has told various news outlets that she went to Baker in '93 to complain of alleged harassment by Biden but not her accusation of assault.

Baker, through her statement, denied Reade's claim: "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.”

Reade claimed that after there was no action taken she filed a written complaint with the Senate personnel office — and soon afterwards had her work duties limited and was moved to a windowless office. (The Times and other outlets were unable to find a copy of the complaint Reade said she filed.)

Two interns from Biden’s office in ’93 told the Times they remembered she did suddenly stop supervising them — one of her job duties — that April, though they said they never saw her and Biden together.

Two other top Biden aides whom Reade said she complained to of harassment in ’93 told PEOPLE they don’t recall working with her or her coming to them.

"If it happened, I would have remembered it,” said Dennis Toner, then the deputy chief of staff. “I don't remember it and I don't believe it's accurate."

“She did not come to me. I would have remembered her if she had,” said former Chief of Staff Ted Kaufman, who later replaced Biden in the Senate. “I do not remember her.”

Various staffers from Biden’s years in the Senate, including other women, told the AP, the Post and the Times that they did not witness misconduct and that their experience was not like Reade’s.

“When you work on the Hill, everyone knows who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and Biden was a good guy,” Melissa Lefko, a former staff assistant from the same period Reade worked with Biden, told the Times.

Former Vice President Joe Biden
| Credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Defending Reade

LaCasse told Business Insider that she's a pro-Biden Democrat but wanted to speak out to defend Reade after witnessing the reaction to Reade's allegations in recent weeks, including the campaign's denial.

"She didn't ask me to," LaCasse told Business Insider. "I volunteered to do that just recently. If this was me, I would want somebody to stand up for me. It takes a lot of guts to do what she's doing."

Sanchez said something similar: "It takes great courage and strength to come forward. It's much easier to keep silent. However, I also understand the duty we have as women to share our story regardless of who the perpetrator may be." (LaCasse and Sanchez could not be reached by PEOPLE for additional comment.)

Reade has said she told her mother about the alleged assault at the time and also told her brother, Collin Moulton, and two friends, according to the AP and the Post.

A friend, speaking anonymously, confirmed to the Post that Reade did tell them about it. Another friend told the Times that Reade spoke in 2008 of an upsetting experience from her time in Biden’s office and said he allegedly touched her inappropriately.

Reade previously told the Times she was a “third-generation Democrat” and her decision to come forward was not motivated by politics. According to the Post, Reade said she voted twice for the Obama-Biden ticket because she agreed with President Barack Obama‘s policies. (She has also tweeted supportively of Biden.)

LaCasse likewise told Business Insider: "I personally am a Democrat, a very strong Democrat. And I'm for Biden, regardless. But still I have to come out and say this."

Trump Circle Weighs In

President Donald Trump’s allies, including oldest son Donald Trump Jr., have been critical of the media’s coverage of Reade’s accusations and amplified her account on social media. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said earlier this month Reade’s story had not been written about widely enough.

The new information about Reade's allegation comes about six months out from the likely general election face-off between Biden and President Trump on Nov. 3.

The president has himself faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault, including rape. Former PEOPLE reporter Natasha Stoynoff said Trump forcibly kissed her during an interview in December 2005.

(He has denied these stories and is being sued by two women who claim he defamed them by saying they weren’t telling the truth.)

The president was infamously caught on tape while on Access Hollywood in 2005 bragging about his ability to touch women because of his celebrity.

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump said then. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said. “Grab ’em by the p——. You can do anything.”