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Tara Reade’s failed attempt to disqualify Biden

Melvin B. Miller

Sexual assault is a crime. Anyone who is a victim has a right to file a criminal complaint against the alleged assailant. However, it is difficult to win such cases, because usually, the only witnesses of the crime are the victim and the accused. Under American jurisprudence, the accused has the constitutional right not to participate in his own prosecution. Thus, if the accused takes the fifth, there would be no corroboration of the victim’s statements.

One way to circumvent this constitutional right is for the alleged victim to provide such a damning allegation against a prominent person that he might feel compelled to respond, lest he appear to be insensitive to the charge. The media seem to be driven by intention to respond equally to Tara Reade’s complaint against Joseph Biden as they did to Christine Blasey Ford’s complaints against Brett Kavanaugh in his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

However, there are substantial differences in the quality of the evidence in the two complaints. Tara Reade asserts that when she was a member of Biden’s senatorial staff in 1993, he put his hand under her dress and touched her private parts. Reade was unsure of the date, but she claims to have filed a complaint with the Senate and she does not now have a copy of the said complaint. So far, a search of the Senate records has not found such a complaint. Her brother and two acquaintances state that she mentioned something to them about the incident 27 years ago.

Christine Blasey Ford asserted at Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 senatorial confirmation hearing that Kavanaugh had tried to rape her in 1982 when she was a 15-year-old student at the private Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. She produced the name of an eyewitness to the event and the names of seven persons who could corroborate her testimony about the circumstances. Neither she nor her witnesses were ever contacted by the FBI in their investigation of Kavanaugh to provide information for the Senate in their hearing. Some 36 years after the incident, Ford produced a credible account of the circumstances surrounding her attempted rape.

In a civilized society, anyone who believes they have suffered a sexual assault can file a criminal complaint to begin a formal inquiry. The complaint is not alone dispositive. The question of whether there has been a violation of law will be decided in the judicial process. Until then, there can be no determination about whether the law has been violated. While it is indeed important to prosecute sexual offenders, we must also protect the criminal prosecution standards established by law.

Reade has accused Biden of sexual assault. Biden has assertively denied the accusation. In the absence of substantial evidence in support of her claim, Biden could not be convicted of the charge. It would be unreasonable for those supporting the election of Biden in November to have their support diminished by an unproven accusation.

Before the 2020 presidential campaign is over there will undoubtedly be a barrage of television ads designed to denigrate Joe Biden. It is best to focus one’s attention on the importance of electing a competent, truthful and humanly sensitive president and administration.