Two women told Business Insider that Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, mentioned the alleged incident to them in the mid-1990s, around the time she says it occurred. Lynda LaCasse, who once lived next to Reade, and Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the California legislature, both say that Reade told them she had been fired from a job for reporting sexual harassment. Though Sanchez didn’t recall Reade telling her that Biden was the perpetrator, or that the misconduct in question was a sexual assault, the story LaCasse heard lines up closely with the one Reade has taken to the press.
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse told Business Insider. “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.” Reade was in tears as she told the story, LaCasse added.
Reade has told reporters that in 1993, Biden pushed her up against a wall in the Senate complex, put one hand under her shirt and another her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers. By the time of the alleged assault, she had already complained of a sexist atmosphere in Biden’s office and of sexual harassment. Reade also says that her superiors removed some of her key professional responsibilities after the assault; a former Biden intern has previously confirmed to the Washington Post that Reade was indeed abruptly removed as their supervisor, though they could not confirm the assault or that sexual harassment occurred in the office.
On Friday, the Intercept confirmed that a woman matching the description of Reade’s mother called into the Larry King Show to ask advice for her daughter, who had experienced “problems” in the office of a “prominent senator.” After the right-wing Media Research Center published a clip of the episode in question, Reade confirmed to Holly Otterbein of Politico that the woman sounded like her mother. The Business Insider report provides further, and arguably even more significant, corroboration of Reade’s story. Reade has said consistently that she informed her mother, brother, and a friend of the assault at the time. Previous reporting by the New York Times and the Post confirmed that Reade did disclose the story to her brother.
This is not the first time Reade has accused Biden of inappropriate behavior. In 2019, she was one of over half a dozen women to come forward with claims that Biden touched or kissed them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. As a senator, Biden had stroked her hair and touched her without her consent, she said.
As corroborative evidence for Reade’s account begins to mount, Democratic voters find themselves in an unpalatable situation. Topping the ticket of one party is Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by over two dozen women. On the other side is Biden, whose handling of the Anita Hill hearing and previous support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of public funds for abortion, already made him a difficult candidate for some women to support. Biden has yet to directly address Reade’s allegation, though representatives for his campaign have repeatedly denied that any assault occurred.
Both LaCasse and Sanchez told Business Insider that they believe Reade is telling the truth, and support her decision to go public with the story. “It takes great courage and strength to come forward,” Sanchez told the media outlet. “It’s much easier to keep silent. However, I also understand the duty we have as women to share our story regardless of who the perpetrator may be.”