Sealed records complicate search for proof of sexual assault claim against Joe Biden: Report

Tara Reade, who has accused presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked as his Senate aide in 1993, said she wants to see if a complaint she filed against him at the time is hidden in an archive of the former vice president’s official records that he donated to the University of Delaware in 2011, the Washington Examiner reported Friday.

Reade has said that Biden sexually assaulted her in a semi-private area of the Capitol office complex while he was a senator from Delaware, according to The New York Times. She was 29 at the time.

Reade says that she complained about harassment, not the assault, to three of Biden’s staffers at the time, but they have said that they don’t remember any complaints from her, according to the Examiner.

Biden, for his part, has denied the allegations, according to the New York Post.

Records sealed

Reade’s harassment complaint might be part of Biden’s massive record at the University of Delaware; then again, it might not be. And even if it is, she probably won’t be able to get to it — at least not right now.

That’s because one of the conditions of Biden donating the records is that they remain sealed until two years after his retirement from public life, the Examiner said.

“I filled out a form and talked about just the incident of the sexual harassment, feeling uncomfortable. And I was told at the window that somebody would call back, you know, call me back in. And they never did,” Reade said, the Examiner reported.

In the podcast interview where she revealed the assault, Reade told host Katie Halper she tried to find out what happened to the form, but was told it was returned to Biden’s office.

Documents destroyed?

Unfortunately for Reade, Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian emeritus, told the Examiner that prior to the passing of the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995, there was very little accountability for Congress members’ records.

“I can understand why there’d be a problem with the paper trail,” Ritchie told the Examiner, noting that before the act was passed, “everyone just got fired” after making a complaint. In all likelihood, he said, the complaint form was probably destroyed by Biden’s office. If it does still exist, it may not be accessible for a number of years. “I don’t believe his archive has even been cataloged yet,” Ritchie said.

The New York Post pointed out that Reade’s story is actually a bit more credible than the one given by Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford ahead of the justice’s Supreme Court confirmation in the fall of 2018 — a story Biden encouraged everyone to believe at the time. Not one person said Ford told them about the alleged Kavanaugh assault, either at the time or at any other time until shortly before it was made public over 30 years later.

According to the Post, Reade told a friend about the assault soon after it allegedly occurred and told another friend and her brother a few years later. They have each since corroborated the account, the Post said.

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