A second woman claims former Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately

Amy Lappos claims Biden "put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me" at a 2009 fundraiser

By Shira Tarlo

Published April 1, 2019 6:13PM (EDT)

Joe Biden (Getty/Saul Loeb)
Joe Biden (Getty/Saul Loeb)

A second woman came forward Monday with allegations of inappropriate touching against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide to Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said the former vice president touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her while at a political fundraiser in Connecticut in 2009.

"It wasn't sexual, but he did grab me by the head," Lappos told The Hartford Courant on Monday. "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."

It is the second misconduct allegation made against Biden in the past week, drawing scrutiny of the alleged unwanted contact in the former Democratic vice president's past interactions with women as he weighs a 2020 presidential run.

Lappos first came forward about the alleged incident under a pseudonym in a Facebook group called Connecticut Women in Politics on Sunday, in response to a similar allegation by Lucy Flores, a former Nevada legislator. Flores claimed Biden put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissed her on the head in 2014 at a campaign rally supporting her bid for lieutenant governor in an op-ed published Friday.

"I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair," Flores wrote. "I was mortified. I thought to myself, 'I didn't wash my hair today, and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f*ck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?'"

"He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head," Flores continued. "My brain couldn't process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, 'Tragame tierra.' It means, 'Earth, swallow me whole.' I couldn't move, and I couldn't say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called, and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience."

Flores said she was encouraged to come forward now, because she believed Biden's past behavior with women was not being scrutinized as he prepares for a possible presidential run. Flores appeared Sunday on CNN, where she argued that Biden's conduct with her was "disqualifying" for a presidential candidate.

Lappos also noted a major imbalance of power at play in her interaction with Biden, and she claimed that imbalance had kept her silent out of fear of being dismissed or blamed .

"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."

Lappos said her boss, Himes, was not in the room when the incident took place. The congressman, who is in his sixth term, told the Connecticut newspaper he first learned Monday about the allegation by Lappos and was not prepared to comment.

Biden issued a sweeping statement Sunday, saying, "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."

"If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully," he added. "But it was never my intention."

Several women who had worked for Biden also stepped forward over the weekend to praise the former vice president and his treatment of women in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations.

"I have also known Joe Biden to be a champion of combatting sexual violence, and am proud of the work we have done together combatting campus sexual assault," TraceyEVitchers, the executive director of It's On Us, tweeted Saturday.

Shira Tarlo

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All Salon Amy Lappos Jim Himes Joe Biden