In 1993, Tara Reade was a 28-year-old junior staffer in the office of U.S. Senator Joe Biden. Reade alleges that Biden pushed her up against a wall, put his hand under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers. The assault, she said, occurred in a hallway somewhere in the complex of office buildings near the U.S. Capitol. Afterward, Reade said she filed a complaint with the Senate personnel office and was pushed out of her job in Biden’s office.
In 2019, as Biden was preparing to enter the presidential race, Reade was one of a half-dozen women who came forward to accuse Biden of unwanted touching and workplace sexual harassment. At the time, she did not mention sexual assault. Earlier this year, however, Reade came forward with her allegations of assault and filed a formal report with the D.C. police.
The Biden campaign has repeatedly and vehemently denied Reade’s allegations. Biden, in his first interview about Reade’s allegations, said the alleged assault never happened. “It is not true,” he told MSNBC on Friday. “I am saying unequivocally: It never, never happened.” He also issued a statement about the allegations stating that while such allegations “should be heard, not silenced,” they should also “be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”
Rolling Stone has reviewed the publicly available evidence related to Reade’s allegations. What follows is a comprehensive look at the details and timing of her allegations against Biden, corroboration by people who’ve spoken with Reade, denials by Biden’s presidential campaign, and recollections of former Biden employees who worked with Reade.
Tara Reade’s first set of allegations
In April 2019, as the current presidential campaign was beginning, Reade first came forward with allegations against Biden. She told The Union newspaper in northern California that Biden had touched her inappropriately and created an uncomfortable work environment for her.
“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” she said. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”
Reade also claimed her supervisor asked her to serve drinks at an event as part of her job. When she asked why she was chosen for this assignment, “I was told that Sen. Biden wanted me to ‘serve drinks at an event’ because he ‘liked my legs’ and thought I was ‘pretty,'” Reade wrote in an April 17th, 2019 op-ed for The Union newspaper in California.
Reade says she was effectively forced out of Biden’s office not long afterward. She worked for Biden for roughly nine months, from December 1992 to August 1993.
When she came forward with her allegations of inappropriate touching and a hostile work environment, Reade was one of multiple women who said Biden had made them uncomfortable or violated their privacy with inappropriate hugging, touching, and kissing on the cheek or head. In her April 2019 op-ed, Reade wrote that her story “is not a story about sexual misconduct; it is a story about abuse of power. It is a story about when a member of Congress allows staff to threaten or belittle or bully on their behalf unchecked to maintain power rather than modify the behavior.”
At the time, Biden did not respond to Reade’s specific allegations. He offered a broader reaction to the allegations of inappropriate touching by saying that social norms “have begun to change” and the “boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.” He added, “I get it. I hear what they’re saying, I understand it. And I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.” He did not apologize.
Tara Reade’s second set of allegations
Fast forward to March 2020. Almost a year after accusing Biden of inappropriate touching and workplace misconduct, Reade went public with the allegation that Biden had sexually assaulted her. Katie Halper, a podcaster (including for Rolling Stone) and vocal Bernie Sanders supporter, was the first to broadcast Reade’s allegations on March 25th. Reade has since repeated her allegations in interviews with the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and several other media outlets.
On the podcast, Reade said that while working for Biden, she went to meet him “somewhere in the Capitol area” to give him a gym bag. She alleges that Biden then “put me up against the wall and took the bag. He reached up underneath my skirt…I remember two fingers…It was such a nightmare.”
Reade recalls that Biden asked her, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” When she pushed away from him, he said, “Come on, man, I thought you liked me.” Biden told her that she meant “nothing” before finally grabbing her shoulders and saying, “You’re okay.”
Reade says she filed a complaint with the Senate’s personnel office after the incident, but does not have a copy of the complaint.
Biden’s campaign has repeatedly denied Reade’s allegations, circulating a memo among Democratic supporters downplaying the allegations and saying, “this incident did not happen.” But Biden did not personally address the allegations for more than a month. On May 1st, he told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski that while he supported Reade’s right to come forward with her allegations, he said they were false and “never happened.” He added that he didn’t recall a single complaint of this nature being filed against him during his 37 years in the Senate.
Is there corroboration for Reade’s sexual assault allegation?
Reade says she told several people about the alleged assault, including her brother, her mother, and a friend. The friend — who has asked to remain anonymous — recently told multiple major news organizations that Reade described the assault soon after it happened. Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, initially told the Washington Post that he recalled Reade saying that Biden had acted inappropriately by touching Reade’s shoulders and neck. Several days later, Moulton texted the Post to say that Reade did tell him about Biden putting his hand “under her clothes.”
A former neighbor of Reade’s told Business Insider that she recalled Reade telling her about the alleged assault by Biden. “We were talking about violent stories,” the neighbor, Lynda LaCasse said, “because I had a violent situation. We just started talking about things and she just told me about the senator that she had worked for and he put his hand up her skirt.” A colleague of Reade’s at a later job recalled Reade telling her “she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in D.C.”
Additionally, on August 11th, 1993 — the same month Reade left Biden’s office — a woman called into Larry King’s CNN show during a program on the culture of Washington, DC. The woman said her daughter had just left the office of a prominent senator and “could not get through with her problems” there. “The only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him,” the woman is heard saying, asking King for advice on what her daughter should do.
Though the caller’s identity has never been independently verified, Reade later identified the voice of the woman as that of her mother, who died in 2016. In the 1993 tape, the caller also identifies herself as living in San Luis Obispo, CA, where Reade’s mother was living at the time.
What is the evidence for Biden’s outright denial of Reade’s assault allegation?
Reade says that following the alleged assault, she complained to Ted Kaufman, who was Biden’s chief of staff; Dennis Toner, Biden’s deputy chief of staff; and Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant. She says she mentioned harassment to these senior aides but not the alleged assault. She also says Kaufman pushed her out of Biden’s office and gave her a month to find a new job.
Kaufman told the New York Times that he had no recollection of Reade or her allegations. “I did not know her,” he said. “She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her.”
Toner, the deputy chief of staff, vehemently denied Reade’s allegations. So, too, did Baker, Biden’s executive assistant. “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” Baker told the Times. “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.”
Several of the interns that Reade managed said they remembered her leaving Biden’s office abruptly, but they did not recall hearing about any harassment or assault allegations.
What about the complaint Reade filed with the Senate’s personnel office?
Reade says she filed a formal complaint about the alleged assault soon after it happened, but did not keep a copy of it.
Biden and several former Senate aides say they have no recollection of any complaint being filed. In his May 1 interview, Biden said he couldn’t remember anyone filing a complaint against him during his 37-year Senate career: “To the best of my knowledge, there’s been no complaints made against me in terms of my Senate career, in terms of my office. Look, this is an open book. There’s nothing for me to hide. Nothing at all.”
Biden went on to say that if Reade’s complaint existed, it would be stored at the National Archives, which he said held old records from what was then known as the Senate’s Office of Fair Employment Practices. Biden has requested that the Secretary of the Senate direct the National Archives to identify any record of Reade’s alleged complaint and make it available to the media. “I’m confident there’s nothing,” he told MSNBC.
Following Biden’s interview with MSNBC, a spokesperson for the Archives said they would not have the relevant records. According to a Senate resolution, if Reade did file the complaint with the Office of Fair Employment Practices, the record would be closed until 2043, or at least 50 years after Reade filed her original complaint.
What about the recent report Reade filed with the D.C. police?
Reade says she filed the report on April 9 knowing that the criminal statute of limitations for sexual assault in Washington, D.C., had passed. “I did this for safety and also to demonstrate I will cooperate with law enforcement of any investigation going forward or in the future, and go under oath if I need to about what happened,” she told the Washington Examiner. The report says that Reade alleges she “was the victim of a sexual assault which was committed by Subject-2 in 1993,” and Reade has confirmed Subject-2 is Biden.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department said its investigation into Reade’s claim is “inactive.”