A Connecticut woman has come forward to accuse Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately and rubbing noses with her at a 2009 political fundraiser, making her the second woman to accuse the former Vice President of unwanted physical contact as he deliberates whether to join a crowded 2020 Democratic presidential race.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Amy Lappos, 43, told the Hartford Courant on Monday. The encounter in question occurred at an event in Greenwich, Connecticut. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Lappos’ allegation came three days after former Nevada State lawmaker Lucy Flores accused Biden of an “awkward and disturbing kiss” at a campaign rally in 2014.
“I didn’t even know what to do. I didn’t know how to react,” Flores said in an interview on Good Morning America. “It was the vice president of the United States of America,” she continued. “You just don’t expect that to happen.”
According to ABC News, while Biden campaigned for her when she was running for lieutenant governor, he allegedly leaned in from behind, smelled her hair and gave her a “slow kiss” on the back of her head.
Biden released the following statement addressing both allegations:
“I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once—never—did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
He added that he couldn’t recall his alleged interaction with Flores, but noted “we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences.”
“And men should pay attention,” he said. “And I will.”
“I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve,” he continued. “I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.”
On Tuesday, in an effort to preserve his character, his office provided a lengthy list of 24 testimonies from an assortment of notable women detailing their positive interactions with the former vice president. Per The Hill, this list includes The View co-host Meghan McCain, #MeToo activist and actress Alyssa Milano, and MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski.
Other supporters of Biden have taken to social media to share their own experiences.
“I have worked closely with Joe Biden for many years. In my experience, he is warm and affectionate with women (and men),” former National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted on Monday. “But never have I found his actions inappropriate or uncomfortable. I have always appreciated his kindness and warmth.”
It’s not exactly a secret that Biden has a propensity for hugging or physical touching those he interacts with, but his behavior has come under increased scrutiny as awareness surrounding sexual assault and harassment is at a all-time high.
“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” Lappos told the Courant. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
Both Flores and Lappos claimed they did not speak out about Biden’s alleged behavior out of fear of being dismissed.