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Tara Reade says watching Anita Hill made her stay silent about sex assault allegations against Joe Biden

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Tara Reade, the woman who has accused likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, said she decided to stay silent about her accusations after watching how Anita Hill was treated.

In an interview with Fox News, Reade said that watching Hill during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, whom Hill accused of sexual harassment, had a profound impact.

Hill said Thomas, her former supervisor, engaged in the harassment while she worked at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1980s.

Thomas’ confirmation hearings were led by Biden, who was then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I really believed Anita Hill and I thought she was treated badly,” Reade said. “I think a lot of women felt the same way. They were watching that — that were professionals, you know, I was a young professional at the time.”

“And I didn’t like the way Joe Biden dealt with her, but I also didn’t like how she was dealt with in general, right? And what it did was that it made us more silent,” she said. What it did was show us was, ‘Okay when you try to go up against this, this is basically what you’re gonna face. So it was an example of… a deterrent.”

Reade said she argued with her mother at the time of Biden’s alleged assault over whether she should file a police report.

“Mom, you don’t understand. This is Capitol Hill,” she says she remembers telling her mother, adding that lawmakers were “immune from a lot of crime.” She later added that even raising the specter of sexual harassment “would have been a tough one to bring up against any of them in any kind of substantive way.”

“There was a silencing,” Reade took away from Hill’s testimony. “There was like a ‘let’s go back to square one’ in how we’re going to deal with this and the whole thing about what’s considered vulgar, what’s considered sexual harassment.

“All of the definitions were still fluid and they were still deciding. And even now, here we are in 2020, you have major reporters that consider themselves liberal feminists, they’re neoliberal feminists and they’re saying that the hugging, touching, massaging, kissing, unwanted is that… It’s not sexual harassment. It is sexual harassment,” Reade continued.

“If you look up the definition, that’s the very definition of sexual harassment. So it’s just interesting how, like, even the definitions are being massaged to suit the perpetrator. That’s how I view it,” she said.

Hill, who is now a law professor at Brandeis University, called for inquiries into Biden as well as President Donald Trump, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct — which he, too, has denied.

“Joe Biden has denied Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations, but that should not be the end of the inquiry,” Hill told The New York Times Friday. “Without these essential elements, uncertainty about who to believe and whether it matters will continue.”

According to a New York Times story on Oct. 7, 1991, Hill — a tenured law school professor in Oklahoma at the time — said Thomas “frequently asked her out and when she refused he spoke to her in detail about pornographic films he had seen.”

The paper added:

Professor Hill never filed a formal complaint against Judge Thomas. The accusations were first reported today by Newsday and National Public Radio. NPR said Professor Hill had first made them to the Judiciary Committee the week of Sept. 10, while members of the panel were questioning Judge Thomas in public hearings.

In an interview broadcast this morning on NPR, Professor Hill said she had initially decided that she would not tell the committee of her accusations but changed her mind as the hearings were about to begin because she felt she had an obligation to tell what she believed to be true.

The FBI launched a three-day investigation of Thomas, who was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall but found no evidence proving or disproving the allegations. Also, unlike Reade’s case, no one stepped forward to corroborate Hill’s story.

Jon Dougherty

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