On Monday, Business Insider published interviews with a former colleague and a former neighbor of onetime Joe Biden staffer Tara Reade, adding corroboration to Reade’s account of being sexually assaulted by Biden while she was working in his Senate office in 1993. Both sources went on the record to describe conversations with Reade within a few years of the incident, in which she’d described assault or harassment.
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” Lynda LaCasse, who was neighbors with Reade in 1995 and 1996, told Business Insider of a conversation she and Reade had when they were living in the same apartment complex in Morro Bay, California. “And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”
Last year, Reade was among a number of women who came forward to allege that Biden had touched them in a way they felt was inappropriate, saying in April 2019 that he “used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck.” Last month, Reade, in a podcast interview with Katie Halper, accused Biden—now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president—of pushing her against a wall, kissing her, and digitally penetrating her after she brought him a gym bag in a Senate office corridor. Earlier this month, Reade told the New York Times that Biden stopped when she pulled away and said to her, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me,” “You’re nothing to me. Nothing,” and “You’re OK, you’re fine.”
Reade has said she was subsequently reassigned from her job managing the office interns, then lost her job after complaining to Biden’s staff and filing a formal complaint to a Senate personnel office. Biden’s campaign responded to Monday’s new reporting by repeating a statement communications director Kate Bedingfield issued earlier this month: “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false.”
Though Lacasse told Business Insider she could not remember a precise date, she described in detail the circumstances of the conversation:
She told Insider that she and Reade shared a bond because they were both mothers, and their young daughters swam together in the apartment complex’s indoor pool.
LaCasse said she would sometimes sit on her front stoop to smoke cigarettes after putting her daughter to bed, and that Reade would occasionally join her. It was during one of these evening conversations, she said, that Reade told her about the alleged assault. “We were talking about violent stories,” LaCasse said, “because I had a violent situation. We just started talking about things and she just told me about the senator that she had worked for and he put his hand up her skirt.”
Business Insider further reported that LaCasse is a Democrat and planned to support Biden in November’s election, and that she had criticized Donald Trump on social media and written positive tweets about Biden and his Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. When Reade first revealed her full allegations in March, LaCasse linked to them on Facebook, saying, “This is my good friend Tara Reade, who was assaulted by Joe Biden in 1993.”
In addition to LaCasse’s account, Business Insider also published details of an interview with a former colleague of Reade’s who said that when they worked together in California State Sen. Jack O’Connell’s office between 1994 and 1996, Reade mentioned an incident of sexual harassment that occurred during her previous job.
“[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in D.C.,” Sanchez said, “and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.”
Members of Biden’s former staff have denied anything took place in 1993. The campaign previously issued a statement from Biden’s former executive assistant, Marianne Baker, saying: “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period—not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone. I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.” Reade told the New York Times that she had brought the complaints to Baker and to Biden aides Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman. Toner and Kaufman also denied any knowledge of the incident.
The latest report, the first on-the-record corroboration from someone other than Reade’s brother, adds to a mounting body of evidence against these categorical denials. Last week, the Intercept’s Ryan Grim—who was among the first reporters to publish Reade’s allegations—reported that Twitter had uncovered footage from Larry King Live on CNN in 1993 in which Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, called into the show to say her daughter had been harassed.
“What a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington?” Altimus said in the recording. “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.”
Reade confirmed that the voice was that of her mother, who died in 2016.
In response to a request to see records from the time of the alleged incident, the University of Delaware told Business Insider that Biden’s papers “will remain closed to the public until two years after Mr. Biden retires from public life.”
Biden’s staff did not immediately respond to a request from Slate for comment about the new evidence beyond Bedingfield’s earlier statement.
Support Slate’s politics coverage
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Join Slate Plus to support our work. You’ll get unlimited articles and a suite of great benefits.