• Prominent Democratic women are standing by former Vice President Joe Biden amid former aide Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation against him.
  • Business Insider published interviews with two of Reade's friends, who say Reade confided in them about her claims in the 1990s. 
  • "I stand by Vice President Biden," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Tuesday. "He's devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation."
  • Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is publicly lobbying to become Biden's vice-presidential running mate, insisted on Tuesday that Biden "will make women proud as the next President of the United States." 
  • The Biden campaign has repeatedly denied the accusations.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Prominent Democratic women are standing by former Vice President Joe Biden in the wake of former aide Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation against him.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a champion of women's rights on Capitol Hill and a leading supporter of the #MeToo movement, defended Biden during a Tuesday conference call. 

"I stand by Vice President Biden," Gillibrand said. "He's devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation."

Notably, Gillibrand was the first Senate Democrat to call on former Democratic Sen. Al Franken, of Minnesota, to resign after seven women accused him of inappropriate touching. 

Biden has vowed to select a woman as his vice-presidential running mate, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has publicly lobbied to be Biden's pick. On Tuesday, she said Reade's claims wouldn't stand in the way of that. 

"I believe women deserve to be heard, and I believe that has happened here," Abrams told HuffPost on Tuesday. "The allegations have been heard and looked into, and for too many women, often, that is not the case. The New York Times conducted a thorough investigation, and nothing in The Times review or any other later reports suggests anything other than what I already know about Joe Biden: That he will make women proud as the next President of the United States."

Last month, former Biden aide Tara Reade alleged that the then-senator put his hands up her skirt and digitally penetrated her without consent in a Senate hallway in 1993. The Biden campaign denied the accusations and most prominent Democrats and Biden supporters, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, remained silent on the issue. 

Business Insider published a report on Monday that included an interview with a former neighbor of Reade's, Lynda LaCasse, who says Reade told her the details of Biden's alleged assault in 1995 or 1996. A former California state senate colleague of Reade's told Business Insider that Reade told her in the mid-1990s that she was sexually harassed by Biden and later fired from his office. 

And last week, The Intercept reported about a recording that Reade alleges is her mother, calling in to "Larry King Live" in 1993 to ask how her daughter should handle her issues with "a prominent senator." In the recording, the woman doesn't mention harassment or retaliation or specify who the "prominent senator" is.

Biden's campaign has repeatedly denied Reade's allegations. And former aides who worked in Biden's Senate office alongside Reade have said they have no recollection of her complaints.  

"Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims," the campaign said in a recent statement. "We encourage them to do so because these accusations are false."

On Tuesday, Reade accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of "enabling a sexual predator" by endorsing Biden for president. Reade initially praised Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for saying her allegations were "legitimate to talk about" earlier this month, but Reade later accused the progressive of bowing to political pressure by remaining supportive of Biden's candidacy. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose name has also been batted around as a potential running mate pick, said she supports vetting Reade's allegations. 

"I think that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond. And I think that it is something that no one takes lightly," Whitmer said earlier this month. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary and endorsed Biden last month, similarly said in mid-April that "all women in these cases have the right to be heard and have their claims thoroughly reviewed."

Reade initially came forward last year with the allegations that Biden touched her neck and shoulders and asked her to serve drinks at work events because he liked her legs. She said she was treated like an ornamental lamp and then pushed out of her job after complaining about Biden's conduct.

"It's pretty. Set it over there," she said. "Then when it's too bright, you throw it away."

Biden has also been accused by several other women of inappropriate touching, but none of these allegations included sexual assault.