Recently, there has been a great deal said about the discrepancy in media coverage between the allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the time of his confirmation hearings and Tara Reade's recent allegations against presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. For many, sexual assault allegations are emotional in nature.
However, to address the serious nature of the criminal behaviors alleged, it's important to look at them from the legal perspective used by the law enforcement community to determine their credibility.
In the Kavanaugh case, the primary accusation came from Blasey Ford, who claimed Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed at a high school house party over 30 years before. There were no police reports filed nor or any corroborating witnesses to the assault that could place both of them together at the party in question. Furthermore, Blasey Ford never came forward with these allegations before Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, even when he was appointed to his position with prior presidential administrations and confirmed to the U.S. District Court.
In the Biden case, former Senate staffer Tara Reade accused Biden of sexual assault in the spring of 1993 when, while working as a Democratic staffer, Reade encountered Biden in the corner of a hallway in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Reade said a manager had told her to bring Biden his bag, and when she went to bring it to him, Reade said that Biden had pressed her against the wall, kissed her, and had put one of his hands under her blouse and the other up her skirt, penetrating her with his fingers.
In sharp contrast to the allegations made against Kavanaugh, Reade's allegations were corroborated by two people who say she reported the incident to her managers in 1993, which is proved by a CNN video in which Reade's mother called into the Larry King show to publically discuss her daughter's assault in the 1990s.
This week, Reade demanded that Biden release Senate papers pertinent to her time serving as his staffer in 1993 which may also corroborate the means and opportunity for Biden to have been able to commit this crime. So far Biden denies the allegations.
Furthermore, Reade came forward with her allegations March 24 and on April 9 filed a police report with the D.C. Metropolitan police — a police report which is now inactive, most likely due to statute of limitations and evidence preservation issues for a 27-year-old allegation.
Elements of a crime
With certain exceptions, every crime has at least three elements:
- Actus reus — the criminal act of sexual assault
- Mens rea — the criminal intent to touch a woman without her consent
- The means, motive and opportunity for the concurrence of the two
Blasey Ford's allegation, because no official report, statements or corroboration existed —lacked evidence of any Mens Rea or Acus Reus. Furthermore, since none of her friends could corroborate any interaction at the party together, no evidence exists proving means or opportunity for Kavanaugh to have committed the crime. Furthermore, when pressed for details in interviews and in congressional hearings, Blasey Ford's memory was "hazy," and lacked specific details regarding the incident as well as her actions before and afterward.
In contrast, Reade can account for her working in proximity of Biden at the time, and recalls specific details about the incident, telling The New York Times: "It happened at once. He's talking to me and his hands are everywhere and everything is happening very quickly. He was kissing me and he said, very low, 'Do you want to go somewhere else?'"
Reade also told The Intercept she thinks Biden was surprised when she rejected him and pushed him off. "There was no flirtation, he had no consent." she said, "He pointed his finger at me and he just goes: 'You're nothing to me. Nothing,'" Reade told The New York Times. "Then, he took my shoulders and said, 'You're OK, you're fine.'"
After Biden left, Reade told the Times, she cleaned herself up in a bathroom and went home sobbing. She called her mother who told her to file a police report immediately, she said. Reade said that instead, she complained to Biden staffers Marianne Baker, Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman. When no action was taken, Reade said she filed a written complaint with a Senate personnel office; where she was told that someone would call her in for a full discussion and meeting — but "that never happened," she said.
After her complaint, Reade stated that Biden's staff took away most of her duties almost immediately after the alleged incident with Biden. While Biden denies these allegations, the specificity of the allegations with references to records that can be corroborated adds credibility to Reade's allegation in sharp contrast to Blasey Ford's.
Pattern of Behavior
At the time of his confirmation hearing, Justice Kavanaugh had already passed several FBI single source background investigations (SSBIs). He had never been accused of sexual misconduct and had numerous character witnesses. In contrast, Biden's history of overstepping boundaries with women has been a running joke in the media. Even the left-leaning New York Times acknowledged the "hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable," but the publication edited this line out following pushback from the Biden campaign, which New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet appears to have admitted April 13.
Lastly, the accuser's credibility has to be examined in these cases. With Kavanaugh, many were demonized for questioning the credibility of Blasey Ford, coining the phrase "believe all women." Meanwhile, statements of Blasey Ford's own attorney illustrated a possible motive for her allegations. This contrasts sharply with Reade, a lifelong Democrat who worked for Biden; sharing many of his political stances before and after the alleged assault.
Statute of Limitations
Reade's allegations come as another reminder of the importance of the rule of law regarding the reporting and investigation of sexual assaults. Whether it's Bill Cosby or Joe Biden, statutes of limitation are vital in to preserve a fair criminal justice system.
Sexual assault, as defined under D.C. Code 22-3002 sets a statute of limitation for first- and seconddegree offenses at 15 years, with a 10-year limit to prosecute third- and fourth-degree offenses. From a former police officer's perspective, the ability to preserve evidence more than 10 years old is nearly impossible.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his two and a half decade career on both sides the criminal justice system. Mannes served in both federal and municipal law enforcement in though the 9/11 attacks, D.C.-area sniper task force, homeland security exercises and natural disasters. Mannes’ work in D.C. led to personal encounters with the D.C.’s unlawful personnel actions, unconstitutional gun laws and criminal justice inequalities; which led him to become an advocate for public integrity. Thereafter, Mannes served for nearly nine years as the Director, Office of Investigations for North America’s largest medical board, as a Chief Compliance Officer, consultant, expert witness, nonprofit board member and political adviser. Read A. Benjamin Mannes' Reports — More Here.
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