The former vice-president is running against Donald Trump
US Democratic candidate Joe Biden has flatly denied sexually assaulting a former staff assistant, Tara Reade, nearly 30 years ago.
“I’m saying unequivocally: it never, never happened,” he said of the allegations during a TV interview on Friday.
He asked for a search of the Senate archives for any record of a complaint Ms Reade allegedly filed at the time.
Ms Reade made a criminal complaint to police last month.
She said she was a victim of sexual assault without naming Mr Biden. The police complaint, she said, was filed “for safety reasons only” as the statute of limitations for her claim had expired.
Mr Biden is running against Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by some 25 women.
The Democrat put out his statement before speaking on Morning Joe, a show on US cable channel MSNBC.
What are Reade’s accusations?
She was working as a staff assistant to Mr Biden from 1992-93, when he was a senator for the US state of Delaware.
Ms Reade, now 56, says that in 1993 he forced her up against a wall in the halls of Congress, and put his hands under her shirt and skirt, penetrating her with a finger.
“I remember him saying, first, as he was doing it ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’ and then him saying to me, when I pulled away… he said ‘Come on man, I heard you liked me,’” she told podcast host Katie Halper in March. “That phrase stayed with me.”
The allegations may also complicate the process of finding a running mate for Mr Biden, especially for top female Democrats
Ms Reade says records of Mr Biden’s 36-year career as a US senator will contain evidence that she complained to her superiors about him.
The records are being held at the University of Delaware, which has said it will not release any papers until two years after Mr Biden leaves public life.
It appears there were no witnesses to the alleged assault but three people have backed Ms Reade’s account.
Her brother, a former neighbour and a former colleague have all said that they heard her give it shortly after the alleged incident.
Former neighbour Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider: “This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it.”
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolised him,” Ms LaCasse said. “I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated.”
Ms Reade is one of more than half a dozen women who have forward over the last year to accuse him of inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, though none described his actions as sexual assault at the time.
What did Biden say?
Speaking to MSNBC’s Mika Brezezinski on Friday, the former vice-president denied any sexual misconduct against Tara Reade outright.
“It did not happen. Period,” he said.
Brezezinski pressed Mr Biden on his former statements suggesting that women should be believed when coming forward with their stories of sexual violence.
In 2018, when now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, Mr Biden was joined by a chorus of top Democrats in supporting Dr Ford’s claims, and insisting that she be heard.
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring light of focus, nationally, you’ve got to star