Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Biden Accuser’s Neighbor: ‘This Happened’

Intially there seemed to be little substance to the sexual assault accusation against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Over the past few days, more evidence to corroborate the accuser’s story has emerged.
Lynda LaCasse, who lived next door to Reade in the 1990s, told Business Insider, “This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it.” Lacasse says that she discussed details of the assault with Reade at the time.
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse said. “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.”
“I don’t remember all the details,” LaCasse added. “I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated.”
A second woman, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the 1990s, said that Reade told her at the time that she had been sexually harrassed by a former boss in Washington. Sanchez also said that Reade said that she had been fired for bringing up the assault. Sanchez does not recall the details or if Biden’s name was mentioned.
Late last week, a video clip of Reade’s mother emerged as she called in to “Larry King Live.” In the segment from August 11, 1993, the woman says that her daughter had “problems” with a “prominent senator” and considered going to the press but did not “out of respect for him.” The caller does not mention Reade or Biden by name and does not disclose the nature of the problems.
Previously, two of Reade’s friends had told the New York Times that they were aware of the incident. The Times report, which interviewed Reade, several of her friends, and a bevy of people who worked for Biden, did not find any further allegations of sexual assault, but seven women did report that Biden had made them feel uncomfortable with kissing, hugging, or inappropriate touching.
Reade alleges that Biden went much further. In a podcast interview with Katie Halper on March 25 and subsequently with NPR, she claimed, “His hands went underneath my clothing and he was touching me in my private areas and without my consent.”
When she pulled away, she says that Biden pointed his finger and told her, “You’re nothing to me, nothing,” before taking hold of her shoulders and telling her, “You’re OK, you’re fine, you’re OK.”
Reade doesn’t remember exactly where or when the incident took place, but believes it to have been the basement of the Senate office building in the spring of 1993. At the time, she was a staffer for Senator Biden.
While the circumstantial evidence is mounting, there are also problems with Reade’s story. Reade originally accused Biden of inappropriate touching of her shoulder and neck in April 2019. Reade now says that she didn’t tell the full story at first because “I just didn’t have the courage.”
Reade also says that she told several other Biden staffers about the incident, again without mentioning the penetration, in 1993 but none corroborates her story. Politico reports that she claims to have told Dennis Toner, a senior staffer, then-chief of staff Ted Kaufman, and two others in the office.
Kaufman responded with a denial, saying, “She did not come to me. I would have remembered her if she had. And I do not remember her.”
Likewise, Toner said, ” “I can’t believe there’s any truth to this whatsoever. It’s out of character. It was never alleged. It makes no sense. And if anyone says I had any conversation about this whatsoever, it’s false. That never happened.”
Further, as recently as 2017, Reade (then Tara McCabe) seemed sympathetic to Joe Biden in a tweet.
At this point, it is unclear whether Joe Biden assaulted Tara Reade but there is sufficient reason to investigate further. It is also unclear what effect a lone accusation from 27 years ago will have on the campaign, particularly as Biden faces a president who has his own sexual assault baggage. At last count, at least 25 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and at least one lawsuit is pending. It’s possible that both campaigns will avoid the issue in a version of Mutually Assured Destruction.
For her part, Lacasse believes Reade’s story, saying, “I have to support her just because that’s what happened. We need to stand up and tell the truth.”
But that won’t stop her from voting for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. “I personally am a Democrat, a very strong Democrat,” she said. “And I’m for Biden, regardless. But still I have to come out and say this.”
Originally published on the resurgent

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