Biden accuser Tara Reade files criminal complaint over 1993 allegation

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  • Tara Reade, who worked for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Senate office in the early 1990s, has filed a formal criminal complaint against the former Vice President in Washington, DC.
  • She says that Biden assaulted her in a Senate corridor in 1993, putting his hands under her skirt and underwear without her consent, when she was a staffer in her 20s.
  • Reade accused Biden of inappropriate touching a year ago, but first made the assault allegation last month.
  • Biden’s campaign and a number of Reade’s former colleagues have denied her allegations. The campaign had no comment on the criminal complaint.
  • Reade said she filed the complaint against Biden for “safety reasons,” to establish a paper trail of the incident in case anything happened to her. The statute of limitations for the alleged incident has passed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A woman who accused Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked for him in 1993 has filed a formal criminal complaint with the Washington, DC, police about the alleged incident, Business Insider has learned.

The woman, Tara Reade, says she told police that Biden assaulted her in a Senate corridor, shoving his hand under her skirt and penetrating her with his fingers. She was a staffer in his Senate office at the time. The statute of limitations for the alleged assault has passed. 

Reade first came forward about her history with Biden in April 2019, telling a newspaper in Nevada County, Calif., that the former vice president had inappropriately caressed her when she worked for him. The allegation drew little attention at the time. 

Late last month, in a podcast interview, Reade added lurid new details to the accusation, saying that Biden had assaulted her and touched her without consent while the two were alone after she delivered him a gym bag.

Late Thursday afternoon, Reade filed a report of the incident with the sexual assault unit of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department. Business Insider has obtained a public incident report recording the allegation.

Willing to go under oath

In an interview, Reade told Business Insider that she filed the report in part because she had become a target of harassment after her initial allegations became public last year, and she wanted “to simply have documentation in case anything happened.”

“I filed it because I had been harassed so badly last April,” Reade, 56, said on Thursday. “I also wanted to make it clear that I would be willing to go under oath or cooperate with any law enforcement regarding it, because it did happen. Even if it was 26 years ago.” Reade said she spent 45 minutes telling her story to a DC sex-crimes detective by phone from her home in California.

While the incident report obtained by Business Insider was anonymized for public release, it states that a subject “disclosed that she was the victim of a sexual assault which was committed by Subject-2 in 1993.” Reade confirmed that she was the complainant and that “Subject-2” is Biden. The penalty for filing a false or fictitious police report in Washington DC is a fine and up to 30 days in jail.

The police department declined to comment. Last year, Washington eliminated a 15-year statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual abuse cases, but the law only applied to sexual abuse incidents that had occurred after 2004.  

“These accusations are false.”

When Reade made the sexual assault allegation last month, Biden’s team issued a blanket denial: “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director said. “We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false.”

Marianne Baker, who was Biden’s executive assistant for almost two decades, including in 1993, also issued a statement saying she never witnessed or heard of any inappropriate conduct: “I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.”

Asked to comment on the newly filed criminal complaint against Biden, a campaign spokesperson referred Business Insider to Bedingfield’s previous statement.

An alleged assault in a corridor

Reade worked as a low-level staffer in Biden’s office for less than a year when she was in her 20s. 

In a series of interviews with Business Insider, Reade said Biden assaulted her in the spring of 1993 as she delivered a duffel bag to the then-senator outside of his office. She recalled that it was a hot day, but could not remember the precise location where she met him, describing it only as a semi-private corridor. 

“I just remember he was talking to someone at a distance,” she said. “And then they walked away and he turned towards me and smiled. And he said, ‘Come here Tara,’ and greeted me. And I handed him the bag with my right hand. And then I was against the wall.”

“I remember the coldness. I remember he immediately was trying to kiss me. And then I turned my head away and he was in my neck and ear and he was talking to me as his hands were going down my body, down my skirt, and then up inside.”

Reade recalled that Biden asked if she wanted to go somewhere else.

“I was turning away and pulling away, and he proceeded to put his fingers inside of my vagina, and he made a motion upwards with his hand inside me. And he was still trying to kiss me, and I was pulling away. And then he stopped and pulled back abruptly, and looked annoyed and surprised and said, ‘Aw man, I heard you liked me.'”

Reade says she was in shock. “I was frozen in that moment,” she said. “And he looked angry. He was adjusting himself and looked at me and just pointed his finger and said, ‘You’re nothing to me. You’re nothing.'” She said he picked up his duffel bag and walked away.

Tara Reade

Former Biden staffer Tara Reade

Tara Reade


A friend’s advice: Don’t to go to the police

Reade said she told a friend what happened at the time and discussed it with her in the years after. The friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was opposed to the idea of Reade filing a police report in 1993 but now says, “I wish I had encouraged her to actually do that.”

She said Reade’s story has never changed. “It never varied. I mean, it’s always been a gym bag. It’s always been a hallway. It’s always been, ‘the wall was cold.’ It’s always been, ‘the day was hot.’ It was always the same threading. I have no reason not to believe her,” she told Business Insider.

Reade said she also told her mother, who has since died, that Biden assaulted her. Reade’s younger brother, Collin Moulton, said he heard a less detailed account, in which Biden “had his hand under her clothes at some point.” Moulton said Reade’s mother wanted Reade to go to the police, but “I was stupidly saying she should just move on.”

Reade did not file a police report at the time. She claims she filed a report of sexual harassment with a Senate office that handled such complaints, but does not recall details.

“I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”

Then last spring, after a Nevada politician named Lucy Flores accused Biden of sniffing her hair and kissing the back of her head, Reade went public. “He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade told The Union, a Nevada County, California, newspaper. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.” She did not mention an attack in the hallway.

After that interview, journalists and political partisans scrutinized Reade’s background and social media trail. A tweet in which she called Vladimir Putin “a compassionate, caring, visionary leader” was widely circulated. In an essay she posted on Medium earlier this year, Reade said she went silent after the initial interview because she was “smeared,” saying, “I received phone call and email threats, my website hacked.”

Reade proudly noted on her Twitter account that she voted for Bernie Sanders in the California primary.

She tried to get Time’s Up, the advocacy organization founded to help women in the wake of the #MeToo movement, to take up her cause, but the group declined to fund her case, citing its nonprofit status. Then on March 25, she went on Katie Halper’s podcast, and later on Hill TV, publicly alleging for the first time that Biden had physically assaulted her.

A divisive allegation

Her accusations have divided leaders of the women’s movement that arose in reaction to the election of Donald Trump, who succeeded despite multiple credible accusations of sexual assault.

Actress Alyssa Milano, one of the leading voices in the #MeToo movement and an ardent Biden supporter, expressed skepticism of Reade in a radio interview with Andy Cohen and on Twitter.

“I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man that I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos without there being a thorough investigation,” she said. “I sent the #MeToo tweet two years ago, and I never thought it would be something that would destroy innocent men,” she added. “So we have to find this balance in the ‘believe women’ movement, and also giving men their due process and realizing that we are destroying lives if we don’t go through the right steps.”

Rose McGowan, Milano’s “Charmed” co-star and fellow #MeToo activist, then laced into Milano, calling her “a fraud” in a Twitter tirade.

Reade denies her actions are politically motivated. Filing the police report, she said, was a step she had to take, even if it doesn’t lead to criminal proceedings.

“It’s very imperative that I think, for me, for my voice to be heard. I’ve been silenced and threatened before, in the past, and I feel free now,” she said. “And after I hung up with that detective, I felt a lift, like okay, my voice was heard and law enforcement has this. And I feel safer.”

—Additional reporting by Nicole Einbinder

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