INVESTIGATIVE

Biden Accuser Tara Reade May Have Misrepresented Credentials as Expert Witness in CA Criminal Cases

South Bay defense attorneys are scrambling to determine if Reade was ever used as an expert witness in Santa Clara County, but the DA’s Office says it’s found no evidence of that so far.

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South Bay defense and appellate attorneys are seeking to determine if Tara Reade, the former senate staffer who accused presidential candidate Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her more than two decades ago, ever testified as an expert witness on domestic violence in Santa Clara County following revelations she may have misstated her credentials for such work under oath in Monterey County.

Reade has, at times, worked as a paid expert witness on domestic violence for the Monterey County District Attorney's Office, as Monterey Weekly reported.

According to a court transcript obtained by NBC Bay Area, Reade testified under oath during a 2018 Monterey County attempted murder case that she held a law degree from Seattle University and a bachelor’s degree from Antioch University.

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But as CNN first reported, and NBC News later confirmed, Antioch University said Reade worked there as an administrator, but the school has no records indicating she ever graduated.

When reached for comment, Reade referred NBC Bay Area to an attorney, who declined to comment on the allegations. However, in an email to NBC News, Reade described her position at Antioch University as “affiliate faculty online as needed to help students with life learning and BA completion.” She also sent screenshots of what she described as “unofficial” transcripts that she said showed the completion of her degree. 

NBC News forwarded the images to the school, which declined to comment and referred to its earlier comments made to CNN.

It’s unclear exactly how many times Reade has testified as an expert witness, and in which cases. The transcript from that 2018 Monterrey County attempted murder case, in which Reade testified as a domestic violence expert for the prosecution, shows Reade told the court she’d testified in about 20 such cases over a 10-year period. 

Monterey County Chief Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon said his office had so far located eight invoices from Reade's expert witness appearances, although he declined to state how much she was paid. Brannon said his office never attempted to verify Reade's credentials, who was one of about 10 different domestic violence experts they've tapped over the years to testify in court.

"At the time, we did not contact the schools she said she attended to see if they would disclose her records," he said. "We did not require that she provide proof of all the extensive professional training and experience listed on her CV.  That is normal in the legal profession when expert witnesses are consulted."  

Brannon said his office was concerned by the possibility Reade lied on the stand, which he said could have serious ramifications.

"If a witness called by the prosecution takes the stand at trial and does not tell the truth, and we are confident of that, we have an ethical obligation to inform the defense," he said. "If the false testimony was material—there is a reasonable likelihood of a different outcome at the trial because of the false testimony—the defendant may be entitled to a new trial. That type of analysis depends on the facts and the strength of the evidence in each individual case."

Criminal defense attorney Rolando Soltesz, whose client, Victoria Ramirez, was at the center of the 2018 case in Monterey and ultimately convicted of attempted murder for helping another woman try to burn down the house of an estranged boyfriend, said he questioned Reade's qualifications when she testified as a domestic violence expert during the trial.

“I mean, she was running an animal food pantry,” Soltesz said. “You get a variety of backgrounds, so we questioned her qualifications right off the bat. However, she had testified for almost nine years on behalf of the [Monterey County] District Attorney’s Office.”

A copy of Reade’s resume at the time, which Soltesz provided to NBC Bay Area, shows Reade listed herself as the founder of Gracie’s Pet Food Pantry, a mobile food pantry serving pet owners in need.

It also stated she was certified as a domestic violence prevention trainer.

Considering the new revelations about Reade’s qualifications, Soltesz said he’s requested the Monterey District Attorney’s Office take a fresh look at the case that led to his client’s conviction and potential life sentence.

“I think it’s incredibly serious,” Soltesz said. “It’s an assault on the entire justice system. I mean, we don’t know how many cases she testified in. When you’re relying on expert testimony and they don’t testify truthfully or they falsify their background, they’re committing a fraud on the court, on the public, the taxpayers, and potentially many innocent people get convicted and go to prison.”

In response to the revelations about Reade, the Sixth District Appellate Program, a law firm that handles appeals for indigent clients in the San Jose area, has reached out to attorneys across the region in an effort to determine how many cases Reade may have testified, and whether those cases could be appealed. 

A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said they’ve found no evidence so far that county prosecutors ever used Reade as an expert witness, though they continue to search their records.

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