Biden faces calls to address sexual assault allegation


Presumptive U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is facing growing calls from inside and outside his party to respond to a former aide's allegation that he sexually assaulted her nearly 30 years ago.

Tara Reade worked in Biden's U.S. Senate office for nine months, and claims that in 1993 Biden pinned her against a wall and reached under her shirt and skirt.

Biden's campaign has said the incident never occurred.

Reuters has not been able to independently confirm Reade's allegation and was also unable to reach Reade or a representative for comment.

In campaign videos and debates, the former vice president has described himself as a champion for women, promising to name a woman his running mate and appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court.

But Biden himself has not addressed the allegation, and has not been questioned on the matter in recent interviews.

Some say that needs to change.

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this week that Reade's accusation deserves a fair examination.

But several prominent women on Biden's vice-presidential short list, such as Senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar and former Georgia state Representative Stacey Abrams, have stood by Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a fierce defense of Biden Thursday:

(SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING:

"He is a person of great integrity, of great concern for the American people. He authored the Violence Against Women act...[FLASH] There's been statements from his campaign - not his campaign - but former employees who ran his offices and the rest that there was never any record of this. There was never any record. Nobody ever came forward to say something about it apart from the principle involved."

Reade was one of eight women who last year came forward to say Biden had hugged, kissed or touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable - though none accused him of sexual assault.

Reade then publicly accused him of the alleged 1993 assault on a podcast in March.

Two more women corroborated part of Reade's allegation in interviews with Business Insider.

A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday about the reported corroboration, or the calls for Biden to respond.

Republican President Donald Trump has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and misconduct over the years.

Trump and his campaign have denied every one of the allegations.