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Lawyer for woman accusing Biden of sex assault drops case following claims over her educational record

The Independent logo The Independent 22/05/2020 Graig Graziosi
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The lawyer representing Tara Reade announced he is no longer taking her on as a client.

Doug Widgor said the decision to drop Ms Reade as a client was not reflective of his views on the veracity of her claim that 2020 election hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden sexually assaulted her.

"Our decision, made on May 20, is by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms Reade," Mr Widgor said in a statement given to CNN. "We also believe that to a large extent Ms Reade has been subject to a double standard in terms of the media coverage she has received. 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."

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Mr Widgor ended his representation of Ms Reade on Wednesday, the day after CNN published a piece examining Ms Reade's background. The report suggests Ms Reade did not graduate from Antioch University in Seattle. Ms Reade claims she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the school.

Before representing Ms Reade, Mr Widgor represented clients who've brought sexual assault lawsuits against Fox News and Bill O'Reilly as well as accusers of Harvey Weinstein. 

Ms Reade's educational background was called into question when Antioch University disputed her explanation for how she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. She claimed that she received the degree as part of a "protected program" wherein she earned her credits while having her identity protected. She said she changed her name in an effort to maintain distance from an abusive ex-partner. She also claimed she worked as a visiting professor on and off for five years.

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A spokesperson for the university said that Ms Reade had never attended the university and that she was never a faculty member, but did provide administrative work. A university official also said that a protected program never existed and does not currently exist.

Ms Reade graduated from the Seattle University School of Law in 2004, and enrolled under an Alternative Admission Program.

Questions over Ms Reade's educational credentials may throw into question court cases in which she testified as an expert witness.

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According to a New York Times investigation, Ms Reade acted as a government witness on domestic violence cases in Monterey County for nearly a decade. As a result, a number of California defence lawyers are considering challenging the convictions of clients whose cases included testimony by Ms Reade. 

Ms Reade became the subject of intense media scrutiny after she publicly claimed Mr Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993.

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She claimed that Mr Biden pressed her against a wall and groped her underneath her clothes, which culminated in him penetrating her with his finger.

Ms Reade filed a criminal complaint with police on 9 April 2020 regarding the incident.

Mr Biden has faced several claims from women accusing him of inappropriate touching. Ms Reade's account is the only one in which Mr Biden is accused of sexual assault.

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Mr Biden has maintained that the claims against him are untrue.

"The truth matters ... it did not happen. Period," Mr Biden said.

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