A local California court document from 1996 reportedly shows that Joe Biden’s accuser, Tara Reade, told her ex-husband she was sexually harassed while working for the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee when he was a senator in 1993.
The court declaration was first obtained and published Thursday by The San Luis Obispo Tribune and appears to be the first official public record confirming that Reade made sexual misconduct allegations at the time.
Reade’s then-husband, Theodore Dronen, wrote a court declaration on March 25, 1996, contesting a restraining order Reade filed against him soon after he filed for divorce, the Tribune reported based on records from the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.
The filing contains a passage uploaded by the Tribune in which Dronen wrote that Reade had told him about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.”
Dronen also reportedly wrote that Reade said she “eventually struck a deal with the chief of staff of the Senator’s office and left her position,” and that “it was obvious that this event had a very traumatic effect” on her.
“This is further evidence supporting Ms. Reade’s claims,” Douglas Wigdor, whose firm is legally representing Reade, told HuffPost in a statement. “The [Democratic National Committee] ought to call for an immediate independent investigation into its putative nominee for the 2020 presidential election.”
Reade first came forward with other women last year to say that Biden had touched her inappropriately and made her feel uncomfortable, prompting him to promise to be more mindful of people’s personal space. In an interview with podcast host Katie Halper this March, Reade explicitly accused Biden of sexual assault.
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but the campaign has vehemently denied Reade’s most recent allegation that Biden kissed her, reached under her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers without consent in 1993 when she was a Senate staffer in his office.
“Every day, more and more inconsistencies arise,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement on Thursday, though not in response to the Tribune article. “Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm – and we all have a responsibility to ensure that.”
“At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth,” she continued. “And the truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity.”
After Reade shared her sexual assault allegation in March, Business Insider spoke to Reade’s former neighbor, who said that she told her about the alleged assault in 1995 or 1996. A former colleague from a different job and Reade’s brother have also said they remember her confiding in them about the alleged assault.
Last month, a video surfaced of a woman Reade identified as her mother calling in to a live broadcast of “Larry King Live” on CNN in 1993 and asking him what she should do if her daughter had a problem with a “prominent senator.” The call did not explicitly mention either sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Reade says she filed a limited complaint about Biden’s conduct with a personnel office on Capitol Hill, but later told The Associated Press “the main word I used — and I know I didn’t use sexual harassment — I used ‘uncomfortable.’ And I remember ‘retaliation.’
Biden requested that the National Archives and the secretary of the Senate look into whether Reade filed a complaint about the alleged assault. The Archives said it does not hold any such records, and the Senate said it did not have the legal authority to release such information. Senate Democrats have defended Biden this week despite maintaining that Reade should be heard.
Earlier on Thursday, former Fox News host Megyn Kelly released clips of her on-air interview with Reade in which the former staffer says she wants Biden to drop out of the 2020 presidential race and that she would “absolutely” go under oath and subject herself to cross-examination.
“You and I were there, Joe Biden,” Reade said in the clip. “Please, step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.