It has been more than a month since Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer for Joe Biden, came forward with sexual assault accusations against him, claiming he digitally penetrated her in the halls of Congress. Biden’s campaign has denied the allegations, but the presidential candidate himself has so far refused to respond to them. Andrea Powell, a leader in the campaign against human trafficking across the world, issued a powerful statement condemning Biden for his silence.
“We deserve to have a President that does not assault women and who takes such claims seriously because sexual assault is a violent crime. If you cannot address one woman with integrity, can you run a country with it? Tara Reade deserves a real response,” Andrea Powell, founding president of the nonprofit Karana Rising, declared in a statement on Thursday.
Karana Rising supports youth survivors of human trafficking in reaching their fullest potential. Powell serves as the organization’s chief liaison to the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force. She helped lead the campaign to shutter Backpage.com for its role in aiding and abetting child sex trafficking. Powell also served as the founding director of FAIR Girls where she led the opening of the first safe house specifically for survivors of human trafficking in Washington, D.C., and led programs in Bosnia, Kenya, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.
She expanded on her comments about Reade and Biden in an interview with PJ Media.
“When we do not take seriously the accounts of survivors of sexual assault or sex trafficking, we commit an act of further injustice,” Powell told PJ Media. “Those who commit sexually violent acts — such as sex trafficking — tell their victims to be fearful no one will believe them. By ignoring Tara Reade’s allegations,” Joe Biden is sending a message “to survivors everywhere that their predators are correct. This leads to further shame, isolation, and the ability of predators to continue their abuse and to let their victims suffer.”
“Trauma inherently causes stress,” Powell added. “It can cause confusion about timelines and even core facts. In a sexual assault or sex trafficking training for law enforcement, I train law enforcement to understand that a victim may be so overwhelmed with fear of future abuse or being told that they are lying that they disassociate from the incident.”
The anti-human trafficking advocate insisted that “injustice, like rape and sex trafficking, is a bad seed that often takes time to grow. It is when it overshadows a victims life that they often want to speak out. There is no timeline on the pain that sexual violence causes it’s victim. Addressing Tara Reade’s claims now is the just and fair thing to do for her and all the survivors watching and wondering what would happen if they held their exploiters and abusers accountable to.”
PJ Media asked Powell whether or not she fears that sexual assault claims might be trivialized if they appear to have been weaponized politically.
“Sexual assault claims are claims of a violent crime and regardless when they come forward, they should be addressed fairly and equally. Often, a trigger occurs to make a victim come forward. In this case, it appears the idea that the man Tara Reade alleges assaulted her is now potentially going to become the President of the United States. That is a pretty reasonable trigger,” Powell said.
“I can not speak to the truth of Tara Reade’s claims,” she admitted. “What I can say is that no matter what political party Joe Biden is on, he needs to be sure that they are seriously addressed so that she and other survivors see that their rights are put over political tactics. Integrity is about doing the right thing and not hiding behind political lines.”
Powell’s call for integrity proves particularly striking after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Biden the “personification of … integrity” during her endorsement of the former vice president this week. The candidate’s decision not to address Reade’s claims for a month showed his utter lack of integrity, in Powell’s book.
Reade’s claims may or may not be true, but it seems rather odd that the very Democrats who shouted “Believe All Women” during the Kavanaugh hearings are quick to dismiss sexual assault claims against Joe Biden. Indeed, Democrats have twisted The New York Times‘ reporting just to dismiss them.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.