- Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is facing heightened scrutiny over his past conduct towards women.
- Eight women have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space in ways that made them uncomfortable.
- One of those women, Tara Reade, alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. Biden has unequivocally denied assaulting or harassing Reade.
- 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.
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In March 2020, former Senate aide Tara Reade alleged that Biden sexually assaulted her while she worked for his office in 1993. Biden has unequivocally denied assaulting or harassing Reade.
Eight women, including Reade, have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately or invading their personal space in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Seven of the women said Biden’s behaviour did not amount to sexual harassment or assault.
Biden released a two-minute video after the initial allegations were made public in April 2019, 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 met on the 2020 campaign trail.
Here are all of the allegations against Biden:
Tara Reade alleged in April 2019 that Biden touched her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable while she worked in his Senate office in 1993. In March 2020, Reade alleged that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993.
Reade first alleged in April 2019 that Biden would repeatedly “put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck” while she was employed in his Senate office from December 1992 to August 1993.
She also alleged that she was asked to serve drinks at a work event because Biden liked her legs. Reade said when she refused to serve the drinks, her work responsibilities were reduced and she left her job.
In March 2020, Reade first publicly alleged that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, pressing her against a wall in a Capitol Hill corridor, reaching under her skirt, and digitally penetrating her.
Reade said she filed a complaint with the Senate personnel office concerning Biden’s alleged “sexual harassment and retaliation,” but didn’t mention the alleged assault.
Lucy Flores alleged in March 2019 that Biden grasped her shoulders from behind and kissed the back of her head without her consent during a campaign event in 2014.
Flores, a Democratic politician from Nevada, made her allegations in an essay published in New York Magazine’s The Cut in late March 2019.
Flores said that while she was preparing to go onstage at a 2014 rally during her race for lieutenant governor, Biden came up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her head.
“My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused,” she wrote. “The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners – and I felt powerless to do anything about it … Even if his behaviour wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful.”
Ally Coll, a former Democratic staffer, told The Washington Post in April 2019 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 2019.
Sofie Karasek, a progressive organiser, was photographed holding hands and touching foreheads with Biden at the 2016 Academy Awards. Karasek said she felt Biden violated her personal space in that interaction.
Karasek was one of dozens of sexual-assault survivors who stood on stage while Lady Gaga performed, “Til It Happens To You,” a song concerning rape and sexual assault, at the 2016 Academy Awards.
A photograph from the event of the then-22 year old and Biden holding hands and touching foreheads went viral, but Karasek told The Washington Post in 2019 that she felt Biden had encroached on her personal space.
She also said she didn’t think Biden’s 2019 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 alleges Biden pulled her face close to him during a 2009 political fundraiser.
Lappos, a small business owner and Democratic political activist, told the Hartford Courant in April 2019 that Biden “put his hands behind my head and pulled me close and I thought, ‘he’s going to kiss me.'”
Lappos said her interaction with Biden occurred at a Greenwich, Connecticut fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Jim Himes in 2009.
Caitlyn Caruso said 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,” Caruso told The New York Times in April 2019. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”
DJ Hill alleges Biden rested his hand on her shoulder and moved it down her back at a 2012 fundraising event in Minneapolis. Hill said the encounter made her “very uncomfortable.”
“Only he knows his intent,” Hill told The New York Times in April 2019. “If something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to feel able to say it.”
Vail Kohnert-Yount, a former White House intern, said 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.”
Kohnert-Yount told The Washington Post in April 2019 she was “so shocked” by her encounter with Biden that “it was hard to focus on what he was saying.”
She 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 June 2019, Biden told the brothers of a 13-year-old girl to “keep the guys away” from her at a campaign event.
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.”
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At a May 2019 campaign event, Biden told a 10-year-old girl, “I bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking.”
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