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Joe Biden denies sexual assault allegation

May 1, 2020

US presidential hopeful Joe Biden has addressed accusations of sexual assault that have dogged his campaign for months. A former staffer alleged that Biden sexually assaulted her while he was a senator.

Presumed Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden
Image: picture-alliance/AP/P. Vernon

US Democratic presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden denied a former staffer’s accusation of sexual assault on Friday.

"It’s not true," the 77-year-old Biden said in a statement. "That never happened." The statement marks Biden’s first public response to the accusation of sexual assault made by former Senate staffer Tara Reade.

Biden said women should be listened to on allegations of abuse but "their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."

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'Not backed by other staff'

According to the statement, the media found no other staffers "who corroborated her allegations in any way." In fact, Reade was not the only woman who has complained that Biden kissed or touched them inappropriately, but her accusation of sexual assault stands out.

"The former staffer says she filed a complaint back in 1993," Biden said in the statement. "But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint."

The allegations, first made last year, took on a new shade this week, when two of Reade’s former co-workers said that Reade had told them about elements of the assault before. The assault allegedly took place in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in the 1990s.

Biden appeared on US television later Friday to again refute the allegation which has caused harm to his presidential campaign.

"I'm saying unequivocally, it never, never happened,'' he told MSNBC, adding that he will ask the National Archives to determine whether there is any record of such a complaint being filed, but he said repeatedly that he doesn't believe such a record exists.

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Support from prominent Democrat women

Former Vice-President Biden is the presumptive Democratic candidate to face Republican President Donald Trump this November, as all other Democratic candidates have suspended their campaigns.

Democrats have focused on allegations of sexual assault against Trump and other prominent Republicans like Supreme Court Judge Brett Cavanagh, meaning that the accusations against Biden are likely to continue to be pushed by Republicans.

Biden has sought to draw attention to his record of supporting women’s rights. He had pledged to pick a woman as his running mate for Vice-President and has been defended on his record of sexual assault by prominent Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Stacey Abrams.

Biden has also been critical of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

ed/mm (AP, dpa)

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