Tara Reade alleges Joe Biden sexually assaulted her near the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. almost 30 years ago, and the presumptive Democratic nominee's former staffer now finds herself at the center of a political firestorm, after coming forward in late March with her accusation against her old boss.
Reade accepted a staff position for then-Delaware Sen. Biden in the fall of 1992 after having interned for then-Rep. Leon Panetta, a friend of the senator. One of the main roles of her position was to oversee the office interns. She recalled her early time in the office as being "very positive," noting a holiday party she attended at Biden's Delaware residence. One of her biggest highlights was meeting Maya Angelou at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in January 1993.
At the beginning of her tenure, she says she did not have much interaction with the senator -- besides the occasional "wink" in the hallway -- since she was such a low-level staffer. Eventually, though, she got settled in and her interactions with Biden began to become more frequent.
"When he'd see me, he'd usually put his hands on me. And that's just something he did. And I didn't like it. It made me uncomfortable," Reade told Fox News in an extensive interview. "Like, for instance, I had worked for Leon Panetta and others later, and no one had ever done that with me. Like my boss had never put their hands on me, so that was strange to me."
Reade remembered numerous instances, particularly in major meetings, where Biden would "put his hands on my shoulders usually from behind, and put his fingers underneath my hair, on my neck."
While she had not yet filed a formal complaint, she did recall having conversations with Marianne Baker, Biden's executive assistant, and Ted Kaufman, his chief of staff, about his alleged behavior, saying they "took notes."
Both Baker, Kaufman, as well as deputy chief of staff Dennis Toner told The New York Times they do not recall having any such conversations with Reade.
“I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period," Baker told the Times, while Kaufman said, “I did not know her. She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her."
“I don’t remember her. I don’t remember this conversation. And I would remember this conversation," Toner said.
However, Reade said tensions escalated within the office after Biden requested she serve drinks at a function he was hosting because she was told that the senator "likes your legs and thinks you're pretty."
"You don't have to do this, Tara. You don't have to serve drinks for these men because the senator likes your legs and thinks you're pretty. That's not part of your job," Reade said a staffer told her.
Reade says she refused, which she suspected was a turning point for her in the senator's office. Baker, who had urged Reade to serve drinks at the party, began criticizing the way Reade looked, telling her to "dress differently, be less noticeable, be less provocative."
It wasn't until sometime in the spring when she says the alleged assault took place.
During her March interview with podcast host Katie Halper, Reade said a more senior member of Biden's staff asked her to bring the then-senator his gym bag near the U.S. Capitol building, which led to the encounter in question.
"He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then we were alone. It was the strangest thing," Reade told Halper. "There was no like, exchange really. He just had me up against the wall."
Reade said that she was wearing “a business skirt,” but “wasn’t wearing stockings — it was a hot day.”
She continued: “His hands were on me and underneath my clothes, and he went down my skirt and then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”
Reade claimed Biden first asked if she wanted “to go somewhere else.”
“I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing,” Reade said. “He said: ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’”
The Biden campaign has repeatedly denied Reade's allegations.
"Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women," Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Katie Bedingfield said. "He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard -- and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press."
At the time, Reade says she told her mother, who passed away in 2016, and a friend, who has chosen to remain anonymous, about the assault. Her brother, Collin Moulton, recalled Reade describing harassment that involved a "gym bag."
Reade says her mother urged her to report the assault to the police, which Reade didn't do.
Reade told Fox News she attempted to tell Baker about the incident, but only alluded to how "uncomfortable" she was about certain behaviors of Biden's.
"I was trying to broach the whole thing to Marianne in the hallway and she put her hand up and she goes, 'I can't take this to Ted Kaufman. He's gonna think we're on our periods,'" Reade said.
It was then she says she filed a formal complaint to the Senate personnel office, although she said she did not reference the alleged assault in the complaint. Reade believes her complaint could be held among Biden's records that are sealed at the University of Delaware. According to the university, those documents will remain sealed until Biden has retired from public life for at least "two years."
After filing the complaint, Reade says she was "stripped of my duties" and put in a windowless room that was "not a workspace" where they had to set up a desk, a phone, and a computer for her. The interns she oversaw confirmed to The New York Times that Reade was abruptly removed as their supervisor. She says she worked under Kaufman and Toner, who became her direct supervisor.
Eventually, she says Biden's office cut her loose.
"I was told I was no longer, I was not a good fit. And that I had a month to find a job," Reade told Fox News about a conversation she had with Kaufman and Toner. "And I said, 'Well, you stripped all of my duties. So what do I put?' you know. And Dennis Toner said, 'Put special projects.'"
That summer, Reade says she struggled to find another job on Capitol Hill and suspected that word of her sexual harassment complaint had gone around.
"I would apply for jobs on the Hill and I wouldn't get a response and normally I would. I had good references, I had a solid background, but I would get silence. It would be just nothing," Reade said.
Her aspirations of becoming a senator herself were coming to an end and soon left Washington, D.C., and returned to her native California.
Reade describes herself as a "lifelong Democrat" who was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, even when he chose Biden as his running mate. She says she voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and then Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2020 primary election.
Reade, a single mother, told Fox News that coming forward with her assault claim back in 2008 "wasn't even a question," citing her support for Obama and how young her daughter was at the time. She believed going public about the assault would upend their lives.
In April 2019, Reade was one of eight women who came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching from Biden as the former vice president was entering the 2020 race. However, after having spoken to some members of the press including the Associated Press and The New York Times about the inappropriate touching, Reade made several attempts to come forward about the alleged assault in May of last year to various media outlets and even presidential candidates, citing Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, all of which fell on deaf ears.
On March 24, The Intercept reported about Reade's efforts to seek legal and financial assistance from the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund back in January 2020. However, while the pro-victim organization offered referrals for attorneys -- Reade told Fox News "none" would take on her case -- it informed Reade in February that she would not be getting financial assistance for PR and legal fees since her alleged abuser was currently seeking office, which the organization insisted could jeopardize its nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.
The next day, on March 25, Katie Halper released her interview with Reade, revealing her assault allegation for the very first time in public.
For weeks, Reade's allegation got very little attention and was largely ignored by the mainstream media. But the tides began to change when Rich McHugh of Business Insider reported on April 10 that Reade filed a report to the D.C. Metro Police after she had received threats and harassment on social media. She knew at the time she went to the police that the statute of limitations was in effect on her assault claim, but still listed Biden as her alleged perpetrator.
Days later, on Easter Sunday, both The New York Times and The Washington Post ran their reports on Reade's claims, slowly allowing the rest of the mainstream media to play catch-up.
During this time, however, despite the Biden campaign's repeated denials, Biden himself was never asked about Reade's allegations during the many TV appearances he had made since she came forward.
Then news developments surrounding Reade's story emerged. On April 24, The Intercept obtained the transcript of an August 11, 1993, telecast of "Larry King Live" where an anonymous California woman phoned into the show and described the "problems" her daughter faced with a "prominent senator."
Reade had claimed in previous interviews that her mother had called into the iconic CNN program, but did not recall the exact date of the airing. She remembered being "furious" at her mother, who she says did it without her permission, when she later watched the segment on tape.
However, on the evening of April 24, the Media Research Center found the footage in its archives based on the Intercept's reporting. Reade confirmed to Fox News that the woman heard in the clip was her mother.
A few days later, on April 27, two more people came forward to Business Insider to further corroborate Reade's claims on the record. Lynda LaCasse, a former next-door neighbor of Reade's and a self-described Biden supporter, said Reade told her about the assault.
"This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it," LaCasse told Business Insider, recalling a conversation with Reade that occurred in either 1995 or 1996.
Another past acquaintance, Lorraine Sanchez, a former colleague, also recalled past conversations with Reade, though she said did not recall Reade referring to Biden by name.
"[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in D.C.," Sanchez told the publication, "and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired."
While Biden has remained silent on the allegations, many prominent Democrats are backing their party's presumptive nominee. Most notably, the candidates on his potential VP shortlist like Stacey Abrams and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have defended Biden's character and record as a women's rights advocate and suggested the Times' reporting on Reade's claims exonerate the former vice president.
On April 28, BuzzFeed News reported that the Biden campaign was circulating talking points to combat Reade's allegations, which cited the Times' reporting and declared that the outlet concluded that the alleged assault "did not happen."
The next day, the Times rebuked the Biden campaign for "inaccurately" describing its reporting as conclusive.
There has been growing pressure for Biden to address the allegations himself and to call on the University of Delaware to unseal his Senate records.
"I'm calling for the release of the documents being held by the University of Delaware that contain Biden's staff personnel records because I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents," Reade told Fox News. "Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light -- why are they under seal? And why won't they be released to the public?"
The editorial board of The Washington Post joined the call on April 29, urging Biden to address the allegations and "release relevant records."
The New York Times also reported that women's groups had drafted an unreleased joint letter to Biden pleading for him to speak out about the claims, but the Biden campaign intervened and prevented the letter from being sent.
Over a month has passed since Reade came forward with her assault claim, which slowly brewed over the past several weeks and quickly became the biggest political controversy in the country.
Stay tuned to Fox News and FoxNews.com for continuing coverage.