A court document from 1996 shows that, in 1993, Tara Reade told the man who became her husband that she was being sexually harassed while working for Joe Biden. The document was obtained by The Tribune, a newspaper in San Luis Obispo, California where Reade resided in 1996. The husband (soon to become an ex-husband) submitted the document to the court in connection with a restraining order Reade filed against him days after he filed for divorce.
In the document, the husband also said that Reade told him she “eventually struck a deal with the chief of staff of the Senator’s office and left her position.” I don’t recall Reade saying anything about a deal with Biden’s chief of staff.
The court document doesn’t say that Biden was the alleged harasser of Reade. Nor does it allege that the harassment was in the form of the kind of assault Reade now describes. Such an assault would be sexual harassment, but there are many forms of sexual harassment, including severe ones, that do not involve unwanted touching of the genital area.
But whatever the precise nature of the alleged harassment, the husband told the court “it was obvious that this event had a very traumatic effect on [Reade], and that she is still sensitive and effected (sic) by it today.” The husband said the harassment “color[s] [Reade’s] perception and judgment.”
Statements made during contentious court proceedings aren’t always reliable. The husband had an interest in casting aspersions on Reade’s “perception and judgment.”
But it can’t be a coincidence that the husband based his shot at Reade on her allegation that she experienced sexual harassment in Biden’s office. Reade clearly told the husband about it, and presumably did so so in 1993, as the husband stated.
By now, it can’t genuinely be disputed that Reade told others about being sexually harassed while working for Biden. And although the husband didn’t mention assault or Biden himself, others have said that Reade alleged assault by Biden.
The fact that Reade told others about sexual harassment or an assault doesn’t mean she was actually a victim. She might have been lying to her family, her friends, and her future husband.
Why would she lie about this? One possibility is to have an excuse for her departure from Biden’s staff. For example, maybe she was let go for performance or personality based reasons and invented a story about quitting due to harassment. It’s been known to happen, though I don’t think it happens often, and I haven’t seen where Biden’s office alleges problems with Reade’s performance or personality as an employee.
This brings me, finally, to what I find most interesting about the husband’s statement. Unlike previous people to whom Reade mentioned harassment (I think), the husband said Reade complained about harassment while she was still working for Biden and before any “deal” concerning separation:
I met [Reade] in the spring of 1993. . .At the early stage of our dating [she] felt comfortable confiding in me, as we both worked for members of Congress. On several occasions [Reade] related a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment in the office of U.S. Senator Joe Biden.
The fact that Reade complained while still working for Biden reduces the likelihood that she concocted her allegations due to sour grapes.
It seems to me more likely than not that Biden sexually harassed Reade in non-trivial ways. Whether he sexually assaulted her is less clear.