Joe Biden allegations: Second woman accuses former vice-president of unwanted touching

Biden is accused of inappropriate contacts with women, as others call his exchanges supportive

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 02 April 2019 17:30 BST
Lucy Flores alleges Joe Biden kissed the back of her head in 2014 at a campaign rally

A second woman has accused Joe Biden of unwanted touching, as another rushed to defend the US former vice president against a “misleading” photograph.

Amy Lappos claimed that Mr Biden “put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses”

“When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth," she told The Hartford Courant newspaper.

Ms Lappos said she met Mr Biden when she was working as a volunteer for Democrat Jim Hines.

In a separate Facebook post, she called the exchange at a 2009 fundraiser, an “incredibly uncomfortable situation”.

Her claims came days after Lucy Flores, a former Democratic politician in Nevada, claimed in The Cut that Mr Biden kissed the back of her head during a campaign stop.

She wrote that the interaction between her and the former vice president was a “violation of my personal space,” but that it did not rise to the level of sexual misconduct or a form of assault.

“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’” Ms Flores said. “I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified.”

While some have criticised Mr Biden for being too physical with female colleagues, supporters and others, others have said pictures showing him with his hands around women are “misleading”.

Stephanie Carter, who is the wife of former Defence Secretary Ashton B Carter, wrote an article for the Medium website defending the 76-year-old after photo of an exchange between the pair went viral after Ms Flores’ allegations surfaced.

“Let me state upfront that I don’t know [Flores], but I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed,” she wrote. “But her story is not mine.

She added: "The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.”

Meanwhile, Ms Carter said she was “uncharacteristically nervous” the day the photo was take on her and Mr Biden, as she had fallen on ice outside of the Pentagon before the event took place.

Mr Biden noticed her worrying, she wrote, and “quickly gave me a hug.”

She added the vice president “kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support.”

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Mr Biden denied he had acted “inappropriately” towards Ms Flores in a statement, but said he would “listen respectfully” to women sharing their stories.

He did not respond to Ms Lappos’ claims but did offer general sympathy for women who have expressed discomfort with his interactions.

“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately," he said. "If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will."

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