At the very moment news was spreading Tuesday that Andrew Cuomo intended to resign as governor of New York, Tara Reade was talking to The Real News Network. Reade, who has accused President Joe Biden of sexual assault in 1993 when he was a Senator from Delaware, was discussing the differences between how the media handled her case and how they handled the claims made against Cuomo.  

“I think that his resignation is a good first step towards justice for his survivors,” Reade said upon hearing Cuomo’s resignation statement. “Now I hope that it is followed up with consequences for the people who colluded to cover it up and for organizations like Time’s Up that participated in trying to go even further and discredit survivors and I hope that the criminal investigation goes forward. Now, let’s do Biden.”

Cuomo’s announcement came a week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report that detailed sexual harassment complaints against him from nine women, painting a “deeply disturbing but clear picture” of his abuses. The complaints against Cuomo ranged from inappropriate comments to unsolicited kissing and groping of his staffers. This investigation also led to the resignation of Roberta Kaplan from her position as chair of the anti-sex-abuse charity Time’s Up; Kaplan, the investigation found, had read and reviewed a letter drafted for the purpose of questioning the credibility of Lindsay Boylan, one of Cuomo’s accusers.

After the release of the report, Biden called on Cuomo to step down, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the allegations against Cuomo ‘abhorrent.’ Biden’s words rang hollow for many, however, given the fact that he, too, has a long list of women who have accused him of actions very similar to those committed by Cuomo. These allegations range from inappropriate touching to nude swimming in front of female secret service agents. 

“I think that [Cuomo’s] resignation is a good first step towards justice for his survivors … Now, let’s do Biden.”

tara reade

In a conversation with fellow New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens, Gail Collins tried to differentiate Biden’s “touchy-feely issues” from Cuomo’s, claiming the former’s actions are more “friendly” while the latter’s are “assaultive.” But Reade, who first went public with allegations against Biden in April of 2019, vehemently disagrees. 

“I did not find where he put his hands ‘friendly’—that wasn’t friendly. He was trying to have sex with me and he was trying to force me into it,” Reade told TRNN. “I just don’t understand at this point, with [all that] has been out there about Joe Biden, that the legacy media is taking that stance, because history is not going to be kind to them—they are on the wrong side of it.”

Reade’s allegations against Biden, which she outlines in her recently published memoir Left Out: When the Truth Doesn’t Fit In, are disturbing. Reade says Biden held her against the wall, cupped her breast and touched her underneath her skirt. When she tried to pull away, he reportedly pushed her backwards and used his knee to separate her legs while whispering, “I want to fuck you.” According to Reade, when she was finally able to get away from Biden, he told her she was “nothing” to him.

Reade told a friend, her brother, and her mother about this assault in 1993. Her mother even anonymously called the Larry King Show in 1993 to ask what her daughter should do if she was having a problem with a senator. A former neighbor of Reade’s (who was a Biden supporter) also recalled that Reade had told her about the assault in 1995 or 1996. Furthermore, in a 1996 court declaration filed by her then-husband Theodore Dronen (the declaration was related to Dronen’s contestation of a restraining order), Dronen also appears to corroborate Reade’s story regarding “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.” Dronen’s declaration also states that, after filing a sexual harassment complaint with the Senator’s office, Reade reportedly “eventually struck a deal with the chief of staff of the Senator’s office and left her position.” While many have used the timing to cast doubt on her allegations, Reade’s decision to tell her story publicly decades after the alleged assault, along with her hesitation to tell the entire story, are consistent with the experiences of many other sexual abuse survivors who come forward. 

According to a report at The Intercept, Reade reached out to Time’s Up through their legal defense fund when she first went public. Time’s Up initially accepted Reade’s case, but later told her that they could not represent her because Biden was a candidate for federal office and pursuing claims against him may endanger their non-profit status (a claim that is legally dubious, at best). Unbeknown to Reade at the time, the public relations firm that was working on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was headed by Anita Dunn, a top advisor to the Biden campaign. 

When I tried to come forward, I heard the phrase ‘Joe Biden’s behavior with women is a known secret.’ How many times have you heard that phrase with Cuomo?

tara reade

“The level of betrayal by an organization I saw as a protector, I can’t even describe to you. I definitely have been reeling by just how many people they harmed to keep their proximity to power,” said Reade. 

In addition to her experience with Time’s Up, Reade has faced intense attacks from liberal media outlets and Democratic operatives who have used complaints from her former landlords, divorce filings, and even an unpaid veterinary bill to discredit her sexual assault claim. 

“The whole spin about the Democrats is that they are protecting the working class, they are protecting women. And [yet] they just have used my past to shame me, silence me, and make me sound like I’m basically not worth looking at—and it’s indicative of how they treated victims in the past that came forward about Clinton,” said Reade. 

One of the more bizarre claims made against Reade is that she was somehow an agent for the Russian government. These claims focus around a blog she wrote about American imperialism and Russia when she was researching a novel. “I just got pulled into that propaganda because they couldn’t find anything obvious. They couldn’t dispute what happened, [and] I have no criminal background at all, I have no mental health background, so they grasped at the Russian agent thing,” said Reade. “I’m an American who was assaulted by a very powerful American senator at that time, who is now president. So, no, there was no Russia collusion.”

Reade hopes that Andrew Cuomo’s resignation will lead to more people, including possible unknown survivors, speaking up about Biden and the claims against him. “When I tried to come forward, I heard the phrase ‘Joe Biden’s behavior with women is a known secret.’ How many times have you heard that phrase with Cuomo? With Bill Cosby? How much abuse do survivors have to take before we look at the perpetrators and not minimize their behavior?,” asks Reade.

Psaki was asked about Reade’s claims during a press conference this week. She said that they have been “fully litigated,” which Reade also strongly disagrees with.  

“My claims have never even been investigated or properly looked into, much less litigated,” said Reade, “If [Psaki] wants to fully litigate, let’s go. Let’s litigate this, let’s investigate this.”

This is ultimately what Reade is pushing for: While her allegations have been examined, questioned, and challenged in the media and the court of public opinion, they have yet to receive the kind of governmental investigation that the complaints against Cuomo received from the New York Attorney General. The statute of limitations has run out on any possible criminal charge against Biden for the alleged 1993 assault, and Reade is wary of filing a civil suit due to the immense cost involved. However, she does think that a Congressional hearing into Biden’s behavior could possibly give her allegations a fair examination. 

What I want to say is, ‘Even [considering] how badly I was treated, it was worth coming forward, because there’s freedom to that—not carrying that secret.’

“It shouldn’t take twenty years to have [a reconciliation]. I don’t have twenty years, and I don’t want it to take twenty years for there to be some measure of clarity and truth,” said Reade.

Reade also wants the mainstream media to take a look at their previous coverage of Cuomo prior to the sex scandal and reconsider their similar behavior in her case. 

“I want it to change systematically and that’s why I’m speaking out, otherwise I’d want to just go hang out in the woods with my horse and be left alone,” said Reade.

Reade, who says that she lost housing, work, and money after she went public, hopes that speaking out will inspire other survivors to come forward with their own stories. 

“I don’t want to say, ‘Don’t come forward because look how badly I was treated.’ What I want to say is, ‘Even [considering] how badly I was treated, it was worth coming forward, because there’s freedom to that—not carrying that secret.’ So, I don’t want to discourage people from using their voice. I want to change it so that they can use their voice without having their life unravel.”

Molly Shah

Molly Shah is a freelance writer and social media consultant based in Berlin. Prior to moving to Germany Molly was an activist, teacher and lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow her on Twitter: @MollyOShah