#MeToo or Not #MeToo
A former staff assistant to Joe Biden, Tara Reade, has accused the former vice president of sexually assaulting her when she worked in his Senate office from December 1992 to August 1993. Biden's campaign says the allegation is false and a New York Times investigation found no corroboration outside of two friends Reade told in 1993 and 2008.
The Times spoke with both of Reade's friends, seven other women who accused Biden of inappropriate (but not sexual) touching last year, and several people who worked in Biden's office at the time, including two interns Reade supervised. The newspaper tried and failed to locate a complaint Reade said she had filed with the Senate. "No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade's allegation," reporters Lisa Lerer and Sydney Ember wrote. "The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden."
Reade says when she took Biden a gym bag one afternoon in 1993, he pushed her against the wall, kissed her neck, and reached under her skirt, penetrating her with his finger, stopping only when she reacted negatively. She says she told her brother and mother about the incident at the time; her mother is dead and her brother, who has publicly confirmed part of her account, did not speak with the Times. Biden "firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully," deputy Biden campaign manager 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."
Biden's former Senate chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, and longtime executive assistant said they would have remembered if Reade had complained to them about Biden harassing her, as she said she did, and it would have been out of character. Melissa Lefko, a staff assistant for Biden in 1992 and 1993, said she had no memory of Reade but Biden's office was a "very supportive environment for women" and she had experienced no harassment herself. "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," she told the Times.