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In an op-ed forUSA Today, Michael J. Stern explains why he thinks that Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her may not be credible.

The British Broadcasting Corporation News reports that Tara Reade worked as a staff assistant for Joe Biden from 1992 to 1993, while he was a senator for Delaware. In 2019, theUnion reports that Reade claimed Biden touched her neck and shoulder in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. Axios reports that in March 2020, she additionally claimed that Biden pinned her to a wall, put his hand up her skirt, and forcibly penetrated her with his fingers.

In March 2019, Biden posted a video on Twitter in which he talked about “gestures of support and encouragement that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable.” On the post, Biden wrote, “I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

Of the later allegation, BBC News writes that in April 2020 Biden said the sexual assault “absolutely did not happen.”

In his op-ed, Stern writes,

When women make allegations of sexual assault, my default response is to believe them. But as the news media have investigated Reade’s allegations, I’ve become increasingly skeptical.

Stern explains that he finds Reade’s reasons for changing her story “implausible.” Reade initially said that Biden made her “uncomfortable” by touching her neck and shoulder. She did not describe the alleged assault until a year later and said it was because the reporter interviewing her for the Union made her feel uncomfortable and that she “just really got shut down,” as she said to podcast host Katie Halper.

Stern writes,

It is hard to believe a reporter would discourage this kind of scoop. Regardless, it's also hard to accept that it took Reade 12 months to find another reporter eager to break that bombshell story. This unlikely explanation damages her credibility.

Stern also finds it strange that although Reade claims to have filed an official complaint against Biden with the Senate in 1993, no such record has been found by the New York Times**’** investigation. Reade herself did not possess a copy, and Stern writes that this is unusual given that she did have a copy of her employment records from the same time.

Stern also believes that Reade’s claims about her job loss deserve further scrutiny. In 2019, Reade said to theUnion that she left Biden’s employ because she felt pushed out. However, theTimes writes that in 2020 Reade claimed that after she complained to Biden’s chief of staff about the assault, she was fired.

Stern writes, “The disparity raises questions about Reade’s credibility and account of events.”

Stern also notes that Reade publicly supported Biden until recently, writing,

In 2017, on multiple occasions, Reade retweeted or “liked” praise for Biden and his work combating sexual assault. In the same year, Reade tweeted other compliments of Biden, including: “My old boss speaks truth. Listen.” It is bizarre that Reade would publicly laud Biden for combating the very thing she would later accuse him of doing to her.

However, in January 2020 condemned Biden as “the blue version of Trump” in an article written for theMedium that is now archived by the Internet Archive. As Stern writes, “Despite her effusive 2017 praise for Biden’s efforts on behalf of women, after pledging her support to Sanders, Reade turned on Biden and contradicted all she said before.”

Finally, Stern says that it seems all too convenient that Reade cannot remember the date, time, or precise location of the assault. Without that information, it is impossible for Biden to disprove the allegation by proving he was somewhere else at the alleged time.

Stern concludes his op-ed by writing,

I’ve dreaded writing this piece because I do not want it to be used as a guidebook to dismantling legitimate allegations of sexual assault. But not every claim of sexual assault is legitimate. During almost three decades as a prosecutor, I can remember dismissing two cases because I felt the defendant had not committed the charged crime. One of those cases was a rape charge… We can support the #MeToo movement [while also] not support[ing] allegations of sexual assault that do not ring true.

Read Stern's op-ed here.