- Three more women have publicly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of unwanted physical contact.
- A total of seven women have publicly alleged that Biden’s physical behaviour made them feel uncomfortable.
- One of the women, a former White House intern, alleged Biden had “put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead while he talked to me.”
- On Wednesday, Biden posted a short video explaining his conduct. In the roughly two-minute video, Biden said he had “always tried to make a human connection.”
Three more women have publicly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriately touching them in the past, bringing the total number of accusers to seven, according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday.
Vail Kohnert-Yount, a former White House intern, alleged in the report that Biden had “put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead while he talked.”
“I was so shocked that it was hard to focus on what he was saying,” Kohnert-Yount said in The Post. “I remember he told me I was a ‘pretty girl.'”
Sofie Karasek, a participant in a ceremony comprised of sexual assault victims, reportedly said that Biden held her hands and put his head close to her own, after she shared a story about a victim who committed suicide.
Ally Coll, a former Democratic aide, said she met Biden when she was assisting in a reception during the 2008 election. Coll alleged Biden squeezed her shoulder and complimented her smile.
In addition to the three allegations made on Wednesday, four other women have accused him of making physical contact that made them uncomfortable.
Twenty-two year-old Caitlyn Caruso claimed Biden put his hand on her thigh and hugged “just a little bit too long” during a sexual assault awareness event at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, according to The New York Times.
Caruso, who was 19 years old at the time, told The Times she did not bring attention to the alleged incident because she assumed it was how men behaved. Caruso said she had revealed details of her own sexual assault at the event, and she had expected Biden to appreciate the concept of physical boundaries.
“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, the fifth woman, alleged Biden moved his hands from her shoulder to her back while she and her husband posed for a photograph in 2012. Hill, who is 59 years old, said her husband witnessed the incident and put his own hand on Biden’s shoulder.
Amy Lappos, 43, alleged Joe Biden grabbed her head to rub noses at a 2009 fundraiser for a congressman, who she formerly worked for as an aide.
Lucy Flores, 39, accused Biden of “[planting] a big slow kiss on the back of my head” during a campaign event in 2014. The former Nevada assemblywoman and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada said she was “embarrassed” and “shocked” by the incident.
Biden responded to Flores’ allegations by claiming he was not aware he had acted inappropriately.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
On Wednesday, Biden posted a short video explaining his conduct. In the roughly two-minute video, Biden said he had “always tried to make a human connection.”
“That’s my responsibility, I think,” Biden explained. “I shake hands. I hug people. I grab men and women by the shoulders and say ‘you can do this.’ Whether they’re women, men, young, old, it’s the way I’ve always been. The way I’ve tried to show I care about them and I’m listening.”
Biden also said he understood that social norms “have begun to change” and that he will be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”
“The boundaries of producing personal space have been reset, and I get it. I get it,” Biden said. “I hear what they’re saying. I understand it. And I’ll be much more mindful.”
Amid the growing number of public allegations, some Democratic officials and activists have supported Biden, who is considering running in the upcoming presidential election. One of the women who was pictured in viral photo with Biden described the narrative behind her experience as misleading in an essay posted on Medium.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that Flores’ and Lappos’ allegations were not a disqualifying factor for Biden. Former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also agreed with the assessment and approved of Biden’s statement following the report.
“I appreciate the fact that he said men, and not just himself, but men generally, have to start listening,” Jarrett said to CBS News. “I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
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