Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has been forced to deny a recent allegation that he sexually assaulted a former staffer back in 1993, the Washington Examiner reports.
“Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” Biden campaign deputy manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement to Fox News.
The former staffer, Tara Reade, said that then-Senator Biden, forced her up against a wall, kissed and touched her, then penetrated her with his fingers without her consent, Fox News reported.
Reade added that when she resisted, Biden said, “Come on, I heard you liked me.” She said once her rejection of his advance was evident, he remarked, “You’re nothing to me.”
Campaign denies allegations
According to Fox, Reade is a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is trailing Biden in the delegate count but has yet to exit the Democratic primary race.
Reade was one of several accusers last year who claimed that Biden had touched them inappropriately in the past, Business Insider noted, but she didn’t mention this sort of graphic sexual assault at the time.
For her part, longtime Biden executive assistant Marianne Baker said that in her 20 years working for Biden, she never observed or heard reports of any misconduct.
“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,” Baker said, according to Fox.
Believe all women?
The problem Biden faces, however, is that in the past he has adamantly maintained that all women should be believed whenever they lodge accusations of this sort. He made that position clear when then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during his confirmation hearings in 2018.
“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 facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time,” Biden said at the time, according to The Washington Post.
Given the age of Reade’s claim and the fact that no corroborating evidence has yet been presented, it may be that Biden need not worry that this particular allegation will ultimately derail his campaign.
However, Reade’s story — and the Biden campaign’s reaction to it — does seem to shine a harsh spotlight on the hypocrisy of the former VP’s previous admonitions that all women making claims of sexual assault are entitled to a presumption of credibility.