US presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday emphatically denied sexually assaulting a former staffer, saying the incident she claims occurred 27 years ago “never happened.”
“They aren’t true. This never happened,” Biden said in a statement regarding the accusations made by Tara Reade, a former staffer in his US Senate office.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, broke a month of silence on the accusations with his statement.
The 77-year-old said Reade’s then-supervisor and former senior staffers in his office “have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues.”
Read, now 56, said on a podcast in March that the former senator and vice president put his hands “down my skirt” and violated her.
She has since recounted her story to other media outlets, and filed an incident report with the Washington police in early April — seen by AFP — in which she did not name Biden.
Other women have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past, and Reade’s initial claims were similar — and less severe than her most recent allegations
Biden also went on a morning news show to proclaim his innocence.
“It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never happened, and it didn’t,” Biden told MSNBC.
“I don’t know why after 27 years all of this gets raised,” Biden added. “But I’m not going to question her motive. I’m not going to attack her.”
But he stressed that “I have a right to say, look at the facts. Check it out.”
Reade has not produced a copy of the complaint that she allegedly filed in 1993 after the incident, and Biden said he has asked officials to search the National Archives, where he says any such document would now reside.
He also said his papers, held at the University of Delaware, “do not contain personnel files.”
Biden, who has pledged to pick a woman to be his vice president, has stressed he has worked his entire political career to improve conditions for women, including authoring the Violence Against Women Act.
“Women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt, if they come forward and say something happened to them,” he told MSNBC.
“Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts.”
“The truth matters,” he said. “These claims are not true.”