A woman who worked at Joe Biden’s Senate office in 1993 is accusing the frontrunner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination of sexual assault.
Alexandra Tara Reade first told her story last year in an April 17 column for The Union, a Nevada County, California publication. She described her first encounter with the former vice president.
“Sen. Biden walked past as I was being interviewed and prepared for orientation, he asked me a question then as he breezed out, said, “Hire her,” with a smile.”
After she began working for him Reade, who was in her mid-twenties, recalled: “Sen. Biden would touch me on the shoulder or hold his hand on my shoulder running his index finger up my neck during a meeting. Again, I did nothing. It was uncomfortable. Again, because it was a kind of dominant gesture, and I do not like to be dominated. But he did this often to me, others, he was demonstrative.”
Reade said one day she was called to her supervisor’s office. “I was told that Sen. Biden wanted me to “serve drinks at an event” because he “liked my legs” and thought I was “pretty.” A senior female legislative aide advised her not to fulfill the request because “you do not have to be treated like an object, you do not have to serve cocktails at a function for men because the Senator asked you to do this!”
This was just the first in a series of clashes and it became a very uncomfortable working environment, according to Reade. “I was told by my female supervisor not to make waves and that the chief of staff would just think we were “all on our periods and complaining for no reason.”
“I went to another senator’s office for help and met discreetly with the staffer I knew, Reade wrote. “At the time, I was volunteering for the 25th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial at the VIP tent and a staffer for Sen. Ted Kennedy tried to step in on my behalf. Then, I went to Senate personnel for help. No one helped me. I resigned or I would say, I was forced to resign. I was told to look for another job.”
She said after she complained, “My life was hell. This was about power and control. I couldn’t get a job on the Hill.”
Senate disclosures reveal that Reade started working in Biden’s office in December 1992 and left in August 1993.
She gave an interview to podcaster Katie Halper this week, alleging for the first time that his behavior escalated from inappropriate touching to sexual assault.
Halper posted an excerpt from her interview with Reade in a Wednesday tweet: “This is a story that @ReadeAlexandra has been trying to tell since it happened in 1993. It’s a story about sexual assault, retaliation and silencing. #meToo.”
Reade described an incident where a superior asked her to take a gym bag to Biden “down towards the capital.” When she got there she was directed towards a “side area” and was greeted by the presidential candidate.
“We were alone and it was the strangest thing,” she said. “There was no like exchange really. He just had me up against the wall.” Reade explained that she was wearing a business skirt with no stockings because it was hot at the time.
“The gym bag, I don’t know where it went. I handed it to him, and it was gone. And then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes … He went down my skirt and then up inside it, and he penetrated me with his fingers. He was kissing me at the same time,” she said.
“I remember him saying first, like as he was doing it, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else,’” she recalled. “And then him saying to me when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing, and I kind of just pulled back and he said, ‘Come on man, I heard you liked me.'”
That statement was Reade’s most disturbing recollection. “He was like my father’s age,” she explained, describing the emotional fallout and disillusionment following her experience. “And that phrase stayed with me because I kept thinking what I might’ve said and I can’t remember exactly if he said ‘i thought’ or ‘I heard’ but he implied that I had done this.”
Reade wrote that Biden grabbed her by the shoulders and said, “You’re okay. You’re fine” and walked away.
“For me, it was like, everything shattered,” Reade noted. “I wanted to be a senator; I didn’t want to sleep with one.”
The former intern recalled that what haunted her the most was when, “He took his finger. He just like pointed at me and said you’re nothing to me.”
“He was like this champion of women’s rights in my eyes and I couldn’t believe it was happening. It seemed surreal.”
Halper spoke with Reade’s brother and close friend who concurred that Reade told them about the alleged assault at the time.
Reade also wrote in a Medium post in April 2019: “I was moved into a solitary, windowless office and told to leave. I was fired, or, should I say, I was forced to resign. No one would interview me on the Hill for any position.”
Biden’s campaign official, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, responded to the allegations last Friday.
“’Women have the 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,” said Bedingfield.
The campaign also provided a statement from Marianne Baker, executive assistant to Biden from 1982 to 2000, who said, “In all my years working for Sen. Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone.”