On March 29, Former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores wrote a personal essay about Joe Biden. In the story, published in The Cut, the Latina revealed that in 2014, when she was 34 and campaigning for the role of Democratic lieutenant governor in Nevada, she had an encounter with the former Vice President that left her feeling uncomfortable. Flores alleged that Biden touched her inappropriately. Now three more women have come forward with similar stories.
Just hours after the Flores piece went live on the internet — where she claimed that Biden came from behind her, smelled her hair, and kissed her head, during a campaign rally — images of him touching other women were posted on social media. While some said that Biden’s PDA is just his nature, others accused Flores of going public only to prevent Biden from running for president in 2020 because she is a Bernie Sanders supporter.
This is such a nice compilation of normal human interaction with people who I have had the privilege of getting to know and work with. Thank you for putting this together for me! pic.twitter.com/EZ4aXMO0zn
— Lucy Flores (@LucyFlores) April 2, 2019
Drudge has quite the Biden mashup today pic.twitter.com/yQHxPltnj2
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) April 1, 2019
Supporters of Flores said that while Biden’s behavior that she described doesn’t fall under the same assaults categorized in the Me Too movement, it is essential to discuss the invasion of personal space and respecting honest accounts of intrusion on all levels.
Since Flores’ revelation, three more women came forward to say that Biden had also invaded their personal space in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
One of those women is Amy Lappos who told the Hartford Courant that in 2009, during a fundraiser, Biden also touched her head inappropriately.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told the publication. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Yesterday the NY Times published an article that included the accounts of two other women who have come forward and allege that Joe Biden has touched them inappropriately.
Caitlyn Caruso, a former college student, and sexual assault survivor claims that Biden rested his hand on her thigh at an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when she was 19. She says she squirmed in her seat to let Biden know she was uncomfortable but he didn’t get the hint and hugged her “just a bit too long.” Caruso claims it was particularly uncomfortable because she had just publicly shared her sexual assault story and expected Biden to understand and respect personal space and boundaries.
“It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” she told the NY Times. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.”
D. J. Hill, 59, is a writer who shared with the NY Times how Biden put his hand on her shoulder and then started dropping it down her back at a 2012 fundraising event in Minneapolis right in front of her husband.
“Only he knows his intent,” she said. But norms are changing now, she said, and “if something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to feel able to say it.”
On social media, more images of Biden showed him not only touching women in close manners but also of him rubbing noses with men. But again his defenders say that’s just his way.
“I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend,” Alyssa Milano said on Twitter. “He has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them.”
I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend. He has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them. pic.twitter.com/cI0jsKlu3P
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 2, 2019
Flores, however, differs and said we are living in a new time when women do not have to be accepting of this kind of behavior.
“If #metoo is founded on agency, consent, and solidarity, then I think it’s time we talk about the scope of that and what it means for women’s bodily autonomy,” she tweeted.
While many don’t think these accusations would necessarily disqualify Biden from being able to run in the 2020 elections, they do believe a change in behavior is crucial.
“I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico Playbook. But she added, “He has to understand in the world that we’re in now that people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it.”
Biden did issue an apology to Flores, not for his actions toward her, but rather that she was offended by it. He said it was never his intention to touch women inappropriately and will continue to advocate for women.
“In many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement, according to NPR. “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”