In this April 4, 2019, photo Tara Reade poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press in Nevada City, Calif.
Donald Thompson | AP
An attorney for Tara Reade, the woman accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual assault, said on Friday that he had dropped her as a client without providing a reason.
Doug Wigdor, a noted #MeToo lawyer whose firm has represented clients with claims against high-profile men accused of abuse like Harvey Weinstein and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said the decision was “by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade.” He also said he sided with the 55% of voters who believe her, citing a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll.
Wigdor, who has donated thousands of dollars to President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, in addition to some Democratic candidates, said the decision to part ways with Reade was made on Wednesday, less than two weeks after he announced that he was representing her.
A spokesperson for Reade, Maria Villena, said in a statement that Reade “does not have a statement about Mr. Wigdor’s decision to part ways.”
“When he joined Tara’s team he was not expecting the amount of victim-shaming and attacks against her credibility as he saw over the past weeks. As he said, these storylines are ‘unrelated and irrelevant matters’. Tara is currently seeking new counsel with PR support,” Villena said.
Reade has alleged that Biden assaulted her in a Senate office building in 1993. She has called for Biden, the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, to drop out of the race. Biden has denied Reade’s claims.
In his statement, Wigdor said the media had subjected Reade to a “double standard.”
“Much of what has been written about Ms. Reade is not probative of whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her, but rather is intended to victim-shame and attack her credibility on unrelated and irrelevant matters,” Wigdor said. “We genuinely wish Ms. Reade well and hope that she, as a survivor, is treated fairly.”
Questions about Reade’s background surfaced in recent days after CNN reported that a spokesperson for Antioch University said that Reade did not graduate from the Seattle institution despite her claim that she earned a bachelor’s degree there.
Reade, who has said she fled an abusive ex-husband, told the outlet that she graduated in a “protected program” to conceal her identity, but the Antioch spokesperson said such a program has never existed.
Reade did take classes at Antioch, the spokesperson said. She later graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2004 through an admissions program designed for diverse and non-traditional students.
The questions around Reade’s educational background prompted defense attorneys in California to reexamine cases in which Reade testified as an expert. Reade claimed under oath that she had received an undergraduate degree from Antioch University, according to Politico, which reviewed trial transcripts in two cases.
The allegation against Biden has put Democrats and Democratic-aligned groups that support victims of sexual misconduct in an uncomfortable position as Biden challenges Trump for the presidency.
Trump faces allegations of sexual harassment and assault himself and has been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women between their legs. Trump has denied those allegations.