Tara Reade can no longer be ignored. The former staffer has accused current presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her when she worked in his Senate office in 1993, and now she has a non-trivial piece of corroborating evidence.
The biggest issue with Reade has been that she told a much tamer version of her story last year to The Washington Post, and implicitly acquitted Biden of any responsibility for the kinds of sexual harassment issues she says she experienced while working for him. She claimed that she told her mother and brother about the assault at the time it happened, but it's far from clear that their recollections included that much detail. Reade's mother, who is now deceased, allegedly called into Larry King Live to discuss Reade's mistreatment, but the call does not specifically reference the assault.
But now Business Insider has found a former neighbor of Reade's who recalls hearing about her assault in either 1995 or 1996. This neighbor, Lynda LaCasse, offers a plausible account:
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, California, 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."
This does not prove that the assault actually happened. But it does make it less likely that Reade invented the assault story only recently. That she told someone about it back then makes her harder to dismiss now. This is precisely the sort of corroboration that was missing from Christine Blasey Ford's story of abuse at the hands of teenage Brett Kavanaugh, and might very well have been treated by anti-Kavanaugh partisans as a smoking gun if a similar type of evidence had emerged during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Biden will reportedly address these issues during a virtual town hall on Tuesday. This will be the candidate's first opportunity to respond to Reade's accusation since none of the CNN or NBC journalists who have interviewed him in recent weeks saw fit to ask him about it.