A former neighbor of Joe Biden's accuser Tara Reade has come forward to corroborate her sexual-assault account, saying Reade discussed the allegations in detail in the mid-1990s.
In March, when a former aide to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused the candidate of sexually assaulting her in 1993, two people came forward to say that the woman, Tara Reade, had told them of the incident shortly after it allegedly occurred — her brother, Collin Moulton, and a friend who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
Now two more sources have come forward to corroborate certain details about Reade's claims. One of them — a former neighbor of Reade's — has told Insider for the first time, on the record, that Reade disclosed details about the alleged assault to her in the mid-1990s.
"This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it," Lynda LaCasse, who lived next door to Reade in the mid-'90s, told Insider.
The other source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the mid-'90s, told Insider that she recalls Reade complaining at the time that her former boss in Washington, DC, had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns.
In interviews with Insider, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the politics podcaster Katie Halper — who broke the story of the assault allegations — Reade has said that in the spring or summer of 1993, she was told to meet Biden in a semiprivate corridor to deliver a duffel bag. There, she said, Biden pushed her up against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers. When she resisted his advances, Reade said, Biden expressed annoyance and said, "Aw man, I heard you liked me." Then, she said, he pointed a finger at her and said, "You're nothing to me." After that, she said, he shook her by the shoulders and said, "You're OK, you're fine," before walking away.
Before the alleged assault, Reade said, she had already complained to her superiors in Biden's office that the way Biden looked at her and touched her made her uncomfortable. She got no response, she said, and after the alleged assault was abruptly relieved of her duties managing interns. She said she later filed a complaint about her treatment — but not the about the assault allegation — with a Senate human resources office.
The Biden camp has denied Reade's allegations. "Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims," Kate Bedingfield, Biden's communications director said in a statement earlier this month. "We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false."
Asked to comment specifically on LaCasse and Sanchez's comments, Bedingfield referred Insider to her prior statement. She did not respond to a request to interview Biden about Reade's accusations.
Insider sought access to Biden's senatorial papers, which are housed at the University of Delaware, to search for records that may shed light on Reade's claims. The university denied the request, saying Biden's papers "will remain closed to the public until two years after Mr. Biden retires from public life."
"I remember she was devastated."
LaCasse told Insider that in 1995 or 1996, Reade told her she had been assaulted by Biden. "I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him," LaCasse said. "And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn't feel there was anything she could do."
LaCasse said that she remembers Reade getting emotional as she told the story. "She was crying," she said. "She was upset. And the more she talked about it, the more she started crying. I remember saying that she needed to file a police report." LaCasse said she does not recall whether Reade supplied any other details, like the location of the alleged assault or anything Biden may have said.
"I don't remember all the details," LaCasse said. "I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated."
LaCasse is the first person to independently corroborate, in detail and on the record, that Reade had told others about her assault allegations contemporaneously. Reade's brother Collin Moulton previously told Insider that he recalled his sister saying that Biden "had his hand under her clothes at some point."
In a series of interviews with Insider over the last week, LaCasse said she decided to speak up now, at a time when Reade's story is under intense scrutiny in the media and facing denials from the Biden campaign, because she believed Reade's account when she first heard it.
"I have to support her just because that's what happened," LaCasse said. "We need to stand up and tell the truth."
"It takes a lot of guts to do what she's doing."
Lynda LaCasse, Tara Reade's former neighbor, says Reade told her in the mid-1990s that the Democratic presidential nominee sexually assaulted her. Courtesy Lynda LaCasse
LaCasse, 60, is a retired former medical staff coordinator and emergency room clerk for San Luis Obispo General Hospital. She lived next door to Reade in 1995 and 1996 in an apartment complex near the beach in Morro Bay, Calif., a seaside community between Santa Barbara and Monterey. She told Insider that she and Reade shared a bond because they were both mothers, and their young daughters swam together in the apartment complex's indoor pool.
LaCasse said she would sometimes sit on her front stoop to smoke cigarettes after putting her daughter to bed, and that Reade would occasionally join her. It was during one of these evening conversations, she said, that Reade told her about the alleged assault. "We were talking about violent stories," LaCasse said, "because I had a violent situation. We just started talking about things and she just told me about the senator that she had worked for and he put his hand up her skirt."
LaCasse acknowledged that coming forward to support an allegation against the Democratic presidential nominee "may have repercussions for me." But she said she has no political ax to grind and intends to vote for Biden.
"I personally am a Democrat, a very strong Democrat," she said. "And I'm for Biden, regardless. But still I have to come out and say this."
Insider has verified, through publicly available records, that Reade and LaCasse were neighbors at a Morro Bay apartment complex in 1995. A review of LaCasse's social media presence shows a long history of anti-Trump sentiments. She has written approvingly of both Biden and his Democratic rival Bernie Sanders on Twitter. In March, she shared a link on Facebook to a story detailing Reade's allegations, with the message, "this is my good friend Tara Reade, who was assaulted by Joe Biden in 1993."
LaCasse told Insider that she and Reade fell out of touch after Reade moved out of their apartment complex in the late 1990s. But the two reconnected in 2016, she said, when Reade reached out to her via Facebook.
In April 2019, Reade told a Nevada City, Calif., newspaper that Biden had inappropriately touched her and made her uncomfortable, though she did not accuse him of assaulting her.
It was after that story, LaCasse said, that she and Reade first revisited the conversation they'd had about Biden in the mid-1990s. "She mentioned that she had come forward," LaCasse said, "and so I said, 'Oh my gosh. Yeah. I do remember that.'"
Then late last month, in a podcast interview with Halper, Reade made her full accusation known — that Biden had attacked her in a corridor, shoved his hand up her skirt, and digitally penetrated her.
After seeing how political operatives and news organizations responded to the claim — the Biden camp denied it outright, and critics scoured Reade's social media accounts for evidence of a purported affinity for Vladimir Putin — LaCasse said she decided to come forward.
"She didn't ask me to," LaCasse said. "I volunteered to do that just recently. If this was me, I would want somebody to stand up for me. It takes a lot of guts to do what she's doing."
Former Biden staffer Tara Reade. Tara Reade
Reade told a former colleague she had been fired for voicing concerns
Yet another source reached by Insider corroborates some of Reade's claims about her time working for Biden.
After she left Washington, DC, Reade worked for California State Senator Jack O'Connell. Lorraine Sanchez, a former legislative staffer in O'Connell's office, mentored Reade and worked alongside her from 1994 through 1996. Sanchez told Insider that Reade complained at the time about being mistreated by her former employer.
"[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC," Sanchez said, "and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired."
Sanchez said she does not recall if Reade offered details about the sort of harassment she allegedly suffered, or if she named Biden. "What I do remember," Sanchez said, "is reassuring her that nothing like that would ever happen to her here in our office, that she was in a safe place, free from any sexual harassment." Reade said she never experienced harassment from any other employer she had during her time in Washington, and that the employer Sanchez recalls her complaining about was Biden.
Sanchez praised Reade for speaking out. "It takes great courage and strength to come forward," Sanchez said in a statement to Insider. "It's much easier to keep silent. However, I also understand the duty we have as women to share our story regardless of who the perpetrator may be."
Reade went on to work in the domestic violence unit for the King County prosecutor in Seattle, Washington, and received her law degree from Seattle University School of Law in 2004. She later served as a legal services director for the Snohomish County Center for Battered Women.
Last week, video emerged of an unnamed woman that Reade says is her mother calling into a 1993 broadcast of CNN's Larry King Live devoted to the culture of Washington, DC. The woman claimed that her daughter had run into unspecified "problems" with a US senator. "I'm wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington," the caller said. "My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him."
Reade had previously told The Intercept's Ryan Grim that her mother, who died in 2016, had made such a call, but couldn't recall the date. When Grim mentioned it on a podcast, Twitter users dug up the transcript and video.
Reade, who has listened to the newly unearthed phone call, told Insider that it was indeed her mother's voice speaking to King. "It was almost a spiritual experience, because my mom loved me so much and supported me," Reade said, choking back tears. "I get emotional even now, and I gave her such a hard time about [calling] Larry King's show that I feel really bad that I couldn't say to her now, 'Thank you so much,' and give her a hug. And I think the most powerful part for me was just how she crossed space and time to help me."
Some former co-workers cast doubt
In addition to the denial from Biden's campaign, other former Senate staffers have emerged to cast doubt on Reade's accusations.
Marianne Baker, who was Biden's executive assistant for almost two decades, including in 1993, issued a statement saying she never witnessed or heard of any inappropriate conduct: "I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade's accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager."
Insider has reached out to other staffers who worked in Biden's office during the time Reade worked there. Melissa Lefko, at the time a staff assistant, said she doesn't remember Reade at all, and that she would have been aware of any accusations of assault or harassment at the time. "Had there been anything, I would have heard about it," she said.
An intern who worked under Reade, and who asked to remain anonymous, said she does not recall Reade discussing any allegations of assault or harassment. But she does corroborate Reade's claim that she was abruptly relieved of her duties as intern supervisor in April of 1993, a move that the former intern found odd at the time.
A police investigation has been moved to "inactive status"
Earlier this month, Reade filed a report with the DC Metropolitan Police department memorializing her allegations about the 1993 incident. Even though the statute of limitations rendered a full investigation highly unlikely, she took the step, she told Insider at the time, for "safety reasons" because she had faced online harassment. "I also wanted to make it clear that I would be willing to go under oath or cooperate with any law enforcement regarding it, because it did happen. Even if it was 26 years ago."
On Monday, April 20th, a police spokesperson told Insider that there was "an active investigation" into Reade's complaint. But in a statement on Saturday, the department said the case had been "moved to an inactive status."
Reade said she expected that outcome, and said she is not backing down.
"I'd like to be heard in a fair and objective way," she said. "And I'd also like to hear Joe Biden's response, which has not happened. My hope is that the conversation will move forward and we will examine how I was treated when I came forward, and really look at the fact that, like domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment is not a partisan issue. It is an equal opportunity offender."