The Slatest

Seven Women Have Now Said Joe Biden Made Them Feel Uncomfortable With “Affectionate” Touching

Joe Biden speaks while standing on a stage at a political event.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event in Dover, Delaware, on March 16.
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Seven women have now accused Joe Biden of touching them in an overly familiar way that made them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Biden released a video on Wednesday saying that he hugged people or grabbed their shoulders because of a desire to “make a human connection” and comfort people in times of stress or hardship. He said he would try to be more “mindful and respectful of people’s personal space” because “social norms are changing.”

Even though it appears his defense will appease his base—and several women who experienced such intimate physical contact from Biden have come forward to defend his “affectionate” style of engaging with acquaintances and strangers—three more women have come forward since the video to accuse him of touching them in a way that left them feeling uncomfortable. Here is the complete list of the accusations against Biden.

Lucy Flores
In an essay for the Cut, Flores wrote that when she was running as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada, Biden came up to her and placed his hands on her shoulders just before she went onstage to talk at a campaign event.

“I felt him get closer to me from behind,” she wrote. “He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. … He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”

The encounter left her feeling ashamed, confused, and demeaned at what was meant to be an important career moment for her, she wrote.

Amy Lappos
In an interview with the Hartford Courant on Monday, a former congressional aide to Rep. Jim Himes said she had been a volunteer at a 2009 fundraiser when Biden approached her.

“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos said. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”

Lappos told the Courant she felt Biden had crossed “a line of respect” in a sexist way. She told the New York Times she spoke out because she was disappointed in the public reaction to Flores’ allegations. “Uninvited affection is not okay,” she said. “Objectifying women is not okay.”

Caitlyn Caruso
The next day, Caruso, a sexual assault survivor who met Biden three years ago when she was a 19-year-old college student at an event related to sexual assault at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, told the New York Times about her experience with Biden. She said Biden “rested his hand on her thigh—even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort—and hugged her ‘just a little bit too long,’ ” according to the Times.

She told the Times that she did not say anything publicly because she just thought it was “how men act.” But she had just shared her story of sexual assault and felt Biden had failed to understand her need for boundaries, she said.

D.J. Hill
In the same article, the Times interviewed a writer who met Biden at a 2012 fundraising event in Minneapolis. She told the Times that Biden had placed his hand on her shoulder before dropping it down to her back, making her “very uncomfortable.”

Speaking on Fox News on Wednesday, she called for a zero tolerance policy on invading personal space and said she had come forward because she wanted to see a “cultural change.”

Vail Kohnert-Yount
In 2013, she was a White House intern, standing aside at the exit of the West Wing’s basement to allow the vice president to move through, when she met Biden.

According to Kohnert-Yount, Biden introduced himself and shook her hand. “He then put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead while he talked to me,” she told the Washington Post in an article published early Thursday. “I was so shocked that it was hard to focus on what he was saying. I remember he told me I was a ‘pretty girl.’ ”

She told the Post that even though she did not consider the interaction sexual harassment, she had felt embarrassed that Biden had commented on her appearance. She said she thought Biden’s intentions were good but that it amounted to “the kind of inappropriate behavior that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.”

Sofie Karasek
In the same article, Karasek, one of 51 sexual assault victims who appeared with Lady Gaga onstage at the Oscars, said that she met Biden after the ceremony and told him the story of a college student who died by suicide after being sexually assaulted. Biden, in response, held her hands and placed his forehead against hers in a gesture others told the Post was a common one for the former vice president.

Karasek told the Post that she appreciated that Biden was making a gesture of support but felt that he had inappropriately invaded her personal space at an emotionally charged moment. “He emphasized that he wants to connect with people and, of course, that’s important,” she said. “[But] too often it doesn’t matter how the woman feels about it, or they just assume that they’re fine with it.”

Ally Coll
Coll said she had been a Democratic staffer in 2008 when she was introduced to Biden at a reception. She told the Post that Biden complimented her smile and held her shoulders “for a beat too long.”

She said she felt uncomfortable at the time but ignored it because of her excitement over meeting him. She told the Post she now thinks his behavior was inappropriate in a professional setting: “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.”