- Former Vice President Joe Biden is the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner, but he’s faced some headwinds when it comes to his conduct toward women.
- Eight women have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space in ways that made them uncomfortable.
- Biden has also been criticised for repeatedly commenting on the physical appearance of women on the campaign trail, and for refusing to explicitly apologise for his behaviour.
- Scroll down for a list of the allegations against Biden, as well as the encounters he’s had with girls while campaigning.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Eight women have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately or invading their personal space in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. None of them said Biden’s behaviour amounted to sexual harassment or assault.
Biden released a two-minute video after the initial allegations came out, but he was criticised for giving what critics deemed a “non-apology apology,” in which he said he would try to do better moving forward. He later said he’s “not sorry for anything that I’ve ever done.”
The Delaware Democrat was further criticised for repeatedly making light of the allegations, and for commenting on the physical appearance of young girls he’s met on the 2020 campaign trail in recent weeks.
Biden’s defenders on both the left and the right say he didn’t mean to offend anyone with his actions and that he prefers connecting with people on a personal level. But others say Biden’s apparent unwillingness to change his ways is evidence that he doesn’t understand how his actions have impacted people.
Here are a list of the allegations against Biden and his controversial interactions with young girls on the campaign trail:
Ally Coll, a former Democratic staffer, told The Washington Post that when she met Biden in 2008, he complimented her smile, squeezed her shoulders, and held her “for a beat too long.”
Coll initially brushed off the incident, but she told The Post that reflecting on it now, she believes Biden’s actions were inappropriate.
“There’s been a lack of understanding about the way that power can turn something that might seem innocuous into something that can make somebody feel uncomfortable,” Coll told The Post in April.
Sofie Karasek was photographed holding hands and touching foreheads with Biden at the 2016 Academy Awards. While many saw the moment as powerful, Karasek said she felt Biden had violated her personal space.
Karasek was one of dozens of sexual-assault survivors who stood on stage while Lady Gaga performed, “Til It Happens To You,” which deals with rape and sexual assault.
The photograph of her and Biden went viral, but Karasek told The Washington Post that she felt the former vice president encroached on her personal space.
She also said she didn’t think Biden’s two-minute apology video adequately addressed the allegations against him. Biden never explicitly apologised for his actions, and Karasek said he “didn’t take ownership in the way that he needs to.”
“He emphasised that he wants to connect with people and, of course, that’s important,” she said. “But again, all of our interactions and friendships are a two-way street … Too often it doesn’t matter how the woman feels about it or they just assume that they’re fine with it.”
Amy Stokes Lappos said Biden “put his hands behind my head and pulled me close and I thought, ‘he’s going to kiss me'” during a 2009 event.
Lappos, a small business owner and Democratic political activist, said the interaction with Biden occurred at a Greenwich, Connecticut fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Jim Himes in 2009.
Caitlyn Caruso told The New York Times that after she shared her story of sexual assault at a University of Nevada event in 2016, Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” and put his hand on her thigh.
“It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” she told The Times. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”
DJ Hill told The Times that at a 2012 fundraising event in Minneapolis, Biden rested his hand on her shoulder and began moving it down her back. Hill said the encounter made her “very uncomfortable.”
“Only he knows his intent,” she told The Times. “If something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to feel able to say it.”
Alexandra Tara Reade, who worked at Biden’s Senate office in 1993, told The Union that Biden would “put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck.” She also alleges that she was told to serve drinks at an event because Biden liked her legs.
Reade also told The Union that when she refused to serve the drinks, her work responsibilities were reduced. Reade alleges that she told Senate staffers about what happened, and Biden’s office found out. Two months later, she left her job.
Reade said the way she was treated made her feel like a piece of ornamental furniture.
“It’s pretty. Set it over there,” she said. “Then when it’s too bright, you throw it away.”
Vail Kohnert-Yount, a former White House intern, told The Post that when she met Biden in 2013, he “put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead.” Kohnert-Yount also said Biden called her a “pretty girl.”
She told The Post she was “so shocked” by the encounter that “it was hard to focus on what he was saying.”
Kohnert-Yount said she wouldn’t classify Biden’s actions as sexual misconduct, but added that it’s “the kind of inappropriate behaviour that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.”
In May 2019, Biden told a 10-year-old girl, “I bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking.”
In June 2019, Biden told the brothers of a 13-year-old girl to “keep the guys away” from her.
The Boston Globe reported that the interaction occurred when Biden met a voter at a coffee shop before a campaign event in Iowa.
When Biden met the voter’s granddaughter, he asked her age. After she replied that she was 13 years old, Biden turned to her brothers and said, “You’ve got one job here, keep the guys away from your sister.”
- Read more:
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