KEY POINTS

  • Tara Reade, a former Biden staffer, said she was sexually assaulted in 1993
  • Reade said she has hesitated to speak publicly over fear of retaliation
  • Biden has previously faced criticism over touching women inappropriately

Presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden is facing a new allegation of sexual assault. Former staff assistant Tara Reade claims he attacked her in 1993. Though she has accused Biden of inappropriate behavior before, this week Reade told her story to the public for the first time.

Various women have come forward to accuse Biden of making them uncomfortable. Last year, Lucy Flores described an incident in which the then-vice president approached her from behind and kissed her on the head. Other women have since shared similar stories, and though the allegations have typically involved highly inappropriate behaviors, they haven’t crossed into the realm of criminal behavior.

Reade detailed her experience on The Katie Halper Show, a Soundcloud podcast. Reade had previously described instances when Biden would touch her shoulders and neck without her permission. These new allegations, however, tell a far more distressing story.

According to Reade she was assaulted while working with Biden, a senator at the time. As she explained, Biden allegedly pushed her against a wall, placed a hand under her clothes and proceeded to digitally rape her. When she pushed him away Biden remarked, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me,” according to Reade.

Reade said this moment was devastating for her. “I looked up to him, he was my father’s age. He was this champion of women’s rights in my eyes,” she said.

Although Reade has said that there were no witnesses to the alleged attack, she described the incident to her brother and a close friend, who have confirmed her account.

Reade said she’d been hesitant to share her story with the public over fears of retaliation and how it would impact her political aspirations. “I wanted to be a senator; I didn’t want to sleep with one,” she said.

She didn’t remain silent though. Reade reached out to Time’s Up, a non-profit group founded to support women speaking up about sexual harassment and assault. They declined to help her, claiming that if they did so it could threaten the group’s parent organization, National Women’s Law Center, and their nonprofit 501(c)(3) status, citing Biden’s candidacy.

Democrats were openly outraged when a recording emerged in 2016 in which Donald Trump could be heard bragging about committing sexual assault. While that didn’t end up sinking his presidential campaign, the tape has remained a point of contention for Trump’s critics.

In the #MeToo era, it will remain to be seen whether or not Biden will be subjected to similar criticism and what impact this will have on his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.