Carmine Sabia| OPINION| A Nevada County woman is speaking out again after a national organization that purports to stand for sexually abused women declined to help her.
The woman is Alexandra Tara Reade and the alleged sexual assaulted is Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, The Intercept reported.
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) March 25, 2020
Last April, Tara Reade watched as a familiar conversation around her former boss, Joe Biden, and his relationship with personal space unfolded on the national stage. Nevada politician Lucy Flores alleged that Biden had inappropriately sniffed her hair and kissed the back of her head as she waited to go on stage at a rally in 2014. Biden, in a statement in response, said that “not once” in his career did he believe that he had acted inappropriately. But Flores’s allegation sounded accurate to Reade, she said, because Reade had experienced something very similar as a staffer in Biden’s Senate office years earlier.
After she saw an episode of the ABC show “The View,” in which most of the panelists stood up for Biden and attacked Flores as politically motivated, Reade decided that she had no choice but to come forward and support Flores. She gave an interview to a local reporter, describing several instances in which Biden had behaved similarly toward her, inappropriately touching her during her early-’90s tenure in his Senate office. In that first interview, she decided to tell a piece of the story, she said, that matched what had happened to Flores — plus, she had filed a contemporaneous complaint, and there were witnesses, so she considered the allegation bulletproof. The short article brought a wave of attention on her, along with accusations that she was doing the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So Reade went quiet.
As the campaign went on, Reade, who first supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren and then Sen. Bernie Sanders, began to reconsider staying silent. She thought about the world she wanted her daughter to live in and decided that she wanted to continue telling her story and push back against what she saw as online defamation. To get legal help, and manage what she knew from her first go-around would be serious backlash, she reached out to the organization Time’s Up, established in the wake of the #MeToo movement to help survivors tell their stories.
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. It was launched in December 2017 and was the most successful GoFundMe in the site’s history, raising more than $24 million. Among the accusers backed so far by Time’s Up are some of those assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, as well scores of others with allegations against executives in male-dominated industries. The group has committed more than $10 million toward funding cases.
In January of this year, Reade spoke with a program director at NWLC, Ellie Driscoll, and was encouraged by the conversation. The fact that she was a Sanders supporter and had come forward previously in incomplete fashion didn’t dissuade Time’s Up. Driscoll referred her to outside attorneys, Reade said, and suggested that the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund might be able to provide funding for PR and subsidize legal assistance…
By February, she learned from a new conversation with Time’s Up, which also involved Director Sharyn Tejani, that no assistance could be provided because the person she was accusing, Biden, was a candidate for federal office, and assisting a case against him could jeopardize the organization’s nonprofit status.
Tara has told her story in a new interview that was released on Wednesday, but she also told her story in an interview with The Union last April.
“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” she said of Biden. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”
She left Biden’s office, and she believes it sidelined her career, after she refused to serve drinks at an event Biden wanted her to because, she said, he liked her legs.
Reade said Biden destroyed her career after word got back to him that she had mentioned her concerns about his behavior to Senate personnel.
“My life was hell,” she said. “This was about power and control.”
“I couldn’t get a job on the Hill,” she said in the interview from last April.