Speaking with Rich McHugh — the former NBC News producer who worked with Ronan Farrow on his Harvey Weinstein investigation — for a piece published Monday on Business Insider, Reade’s neighbor Lynda LaCasse said Reade had told her around 1995 or 1996 that Biden had “put her up against a wall,” “put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her.”
“She was upset. And the more she talked about it, the more she started crying. … I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse told McHugh. “She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”
LaCasse is the first person to corroborate in detail, on the record, the sexual assault accusation that Reade has made against Biden. Previously, Reade’s brother and a friend of hers, who wanted to remain anonymous, have said Reade told them she was sexually assaulted by Biden. Lorraine Sanchez, a former colleague of Reade’s when she worked at the office of a California senator, also told Business Insider she recalled Reade saying she was sexually harassed by her boss in D.C.
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the new corroborations.
Last year, Reade first told a local paper in Nevada County that Biden had inappropriately “put his hand on [her] shoulder and run his finger up [her] neck” when she worked in his Senate office. But in late March, Reade appeared on Katie Halper’s podcast to say that Biden, in 1993, had also pushed her up against a wall in a secluded area of the Capitol building, kissed her, reached under her skirt to penetrate her with his fingers, and then said, “You’re nothing to me” after she pulled away.
A campaign spokesperson said the accusations were “false” shortly after the release of the podcast episode last 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,” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.
The campaign also released a statement from Marianne Baker, a former executive assistant to Biden from 1982-2000, who said she had never heard of or witnesses inappropriate conduct from Biden. “In all my years working for Senator Biden, 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,” Baker said. “These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.”
Before her appearance on Halper’s podcast, Reade’s initial account of Biden inappropriately touching her had come under scrutiny, in large part because of positive statements she had made about Vladimir Putin and her support for then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. (Reade told Vox that she initially wrote posts praising Putin because she had watched a lot of Noam Chomsky but no longer feels that way after learning about Russia’s stance toward domestic violence.)
After her podcast interview, Reade has filed a report with the police about the alleged assault, and new evidence — including the resurfacing of a phone call Reade’s mother made to Larry King’s show in August 1993 and, now, the recollections of her former neighbor — have helped corroborate Reade’s account.
LaCasse, who said she is a Biden supporter, told Business Insider she decided to come forward now because she believed Reade’s account when she first told her and, in part, because it was being denied by the campaign.
“She didn’t ask me to,” LaCasse said of coming forward. “If this was me, I would want somebody to stand up for me. It takes a lot of guts to do what she’s doing.”