Former Vice President Joe Biden once bragged about nearly being arrested for chasing a “lovely group of women” into an all-female dormitory in his youth.
Biden, who is now under scrutiny after facing sexual misconduct allegations from a former Senate staffer, regaled voters during a campaign swing through Athens, Ohio, in October 2008, with a story about what occurred during his last visit to their city. At the time, Biden, who was the Democrat vice presidential nominee, claimed he had journeyed to the city for a football game between his alma mater, the University of Delaware, and the local, Athens-based Ohio University sometime in 1963.
“Now I made a little mistake here that day, I made a little mistake,” Biden told the crowd at the time. Adding, according to reporters in attendance, with a wink that after the game he wandered around and “met this lovely group of Ohio University…students.”
Biden proceeded to explain that he attempted to convince two young women he met on the campus to join him and some friends at a local establishment.
“And uh, without knowing it, I shouldn’t admit this on national television because it’ll reveal that I’m over 60, but I thought that we were gonna go get something to eat,” he said. When the “two young women” claimed they would “be right back,” he offered to escort them to their dormitory, where trouble quickly ensued with campus security.
“I said well I’ll come with you, and they said okay, and I walked into their dormitory and was immediately accosted by a cop who arrested me because back in those days men were not allowed in women’s dormitories,” Biden said. “But I promise you I never breached the first floor and it was only a temporary detention.”
“But that’s what I most remember about Athens,” he added. “So folks look, it’s good to be back here.”
The story when it first emerged made headlines not only because Biden had never disclosed a previous arrest, but also because it came at the time the vice presidential nominee was becoming known for his frequent gaffes on the campaign trail.
At one point the gaffes even drew the rage of Biden’s running mate, future President Barack Obama, who rhetorically asked staffers on a conference call just “how many times is Biden gonna say something stupid.” They did not, however, prevent the Democrat ticket from sweeping the electoral college that fall, allowing Biden to work his way into Obama’s good graces by helping shepherd the administration’s stimulus and healthcare initiatives through Congress.
Despite the progress, Biden would continue telling the story about his brush with law enforcement during subsequent trips to Ohio. Most notably, while campaigning for the Democrat ticket in 2012, he once again told voters in Athens about the incident, albeit this time clarifying that he was not arrested, but came close.
“The last time I was here, I want to make clear to the press, I didn’t get arrested, but I almost did, because back in those days, you students won’t appreciate this, men weren’t allowed anywhere near a woman’s dorm,” Biden said.
“And I got invited into a dorm. I thought I was walking into the waiting room; I got brought into the hallway,” he said. Adding, through laughter, and “I got escorted out very quickly by an Athens policeman.”
The story of Biden’s trip to Athens comes back into the spotlight as the former vice president is under fire and facing accusations of sexual assault.
Last month, Tara Reade, who came forward in April 2019 to accuse the former vice president of unwanted touching and sexual harassment, revealed there was more to her story. Reade now claims that Biden pushed her up against a wall, kissed her, and forcibly penetrated her with his fingers, while she was briefly employed by his Senate office in the early 1990s.
The accusation has been difficult to corroborate given that nearly 30 years have passed since it supposedly took place. As such, Reade has sought to make public the sexual harassment complaint she allegedly filed in 1993, especially as former Biden staffers claim no such document exists.
Reade, for her part, contends that not only does the complaint exist, but it is likely within the thousands of Senate documents the former vice president donated to the University of Delaware in 2011.