A former neighbour of Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked in his office in 1993, has come forward to corroborate part of Reade’s allegation.
Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider in a report published Monday that Reade confided in her about the alleged assault in 1995 or 1996, when the two women lived in the same apartment complex in Morro Bay, California.
“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” LaCasse told the outlet.
Reade was one of at least eight women last year to publicly accuse Biden of inappropriate touching. She said at the time that she worked in his Senate office when she was in her mid-20s and that he would make her uncomfortable by running his fingers up her neck or putting his hand on her shoulder.
In response to the allegations of inappropriate touching, Biden acknowledged last year that “social norms are changing.” He said he would be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”
Reade expanded on her allegation last month in separate interviews with The Intercept and with podcast host Katie Halper. She said Biden pushed her against a wall in a Senate office building, reached up her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers while she was delivering a duffel bag to him at her manager’s request.
Biden’s presidential campaign has vehemently denied Reade’s allegation of assault.
Asked for comment for this story, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign referred HuffPost to a statement Kate Bedingfield, the campaign’s communications director, issued April 13.
“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield said in her statement. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorisation of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard ― and heard respectfully.”
“Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press,” her statement continued. “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
Reade worked for Biden’s office from December 1992 to August 1993 and helped manage the office’s interns, The New York Times reported earlier this month. She said she complained to several of Biden’s senior aides about the senator’s behaviour toward her at the time and also filed a complaint with the Senate.
Reade said she was subsequently stripped of most of her duties. She said Ted Kaufman, Biden’s chief of staff at the time, later told her she wasn’t a good fit for the job and gave her a month to find a new one.
Kaufman told the Times he “did not know her” and that Reade did not complain to him about Biden’s behaviour. The Biden campaign told the newspaper it does not have the complaint that Reade allegedly filed.
Marianne Baker, who served as Biden’s executive assistant between 1982 and 2000, said in a statement last month that she “never once” witnessed or received any reports of inappropriate conduct.
The Times reported no other person accused Biden of sexual assault during its investigation into Reade’s allegation.
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolised him,” LaCasse told Business Insider. “She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”
LaCasse said Reade became emotional when she detailed the alleged assault.
“She was crying,” LaCasse said. “She was upset. And the more she talked about it, the more she started crying. I remember saying that she needed to file a police report.”
Reade has alleged that Biden became annoyed with her when she resisted his advances. “I heard you liked me,” he told her, according to Reade. She said he then told her she was “nothing” to him before touching her shoulders, telling her she was “OK,” and then walking away.
LaCasse told Insider she couldn’t remember all the details, including where Reade said the alleged assault occurred or what Biden may have said.
“I remember the skirt,” LaCasse said. “I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated.”
LaCasse told Insider she’s a Democrat and plans to vote for Biden despite Reade’s allegation. Still, she felt compelled to stick up for her friend, who has faced a wave of criticism and death threats since accusing Biden of assault.
“I have to support her just because that’s what happened,” LaCasse said. “We need to stand up and tell the truth.”
Reade told Vox News last month that she initially supported Senator Elizabeth Warren in the presidential race and then supported Senator Bernie Sanders after she dropped out. It’s unclear who Reade plans to vote for now that Sanders has exited the race.
Lorraine Sanchez, who worked alongside Reade in California state Senator Jack O’Connell’s office from 1994 to 1996, told Insider that Reade had told her at the time that she’d had a boss in Washington who sexually harassed her. Reade said she was fired after speaking up about the harassment, according to Sanchez.
Sanchez said she does not remember if Reade offered details about the harassment or if she named Biden as the perpetrator.
Reade’s brother Collin Moulton told Insider that he recalled his sister telling him that Biden “had his hand under her clothes at some point.”
Reade said she also told her mother about the alleged assault at the time. Last week, video surfaced of a woman, who Reade said is her mother, calling into a live broadcast of “Larry King Live” on CNN in 1993. King was airing a segment called “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?”
“I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington,” the caller said. “My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”
Neither King nor the panel directly addressed the caller’s question and instead discussed whether they would ever consider leaking damaging information about a rival to the press.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.