A past organizer for Delaware’s First State Gridiron Dinner now says Joe Biden did not attend the event in 2008, after a woman recently claimed the former vice president and senator sexually harassed her there, Fox News has learned.
On Friday, the online news outlet Law&Crime first reported that Eva Murry, who is now 26 and is related to a former GOP Senate candidate, alleged Biden made a lewd comment to her at Delaware’s annual Gridiron Dinner that year — when she was 14.
However, an official with Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign told Fox News the allegations are “absolutely false.”
Further, J. Brian Murphy, the former vice president of the dinner in question, said in a statement over the weekend that he reviewed the records and can “conclusively say” Biden “was not at the dinner,” which took place on Saturday, May 3, 2008.
“The year 2008 is particularly noteworthy because it is the only year where the Senator agreed to appear in a video, which was a spoof of Meet the Press. It was taped earlier that week. It was our hope the Senator would attend the dinner to see the video, but he sent regrets. Had he been there, myself as well as others would have known and in fact, I would have acknowledged him from the stage,” he said, in the statement obtained by Fox News. “Senator Biden was not at the Gridiron Dinner in May of 2008.”
Local news reports from the time said Biden was having sinus surgery earlier that week — to address issues including a deviated septum — and was scheduled to be out of work for the whole week.
At the time, his spokeswoman said that she “anticipates that he’ll be out for the remainder of the week recovering at his home in Wilmington,” according to a report in the News Journal at the time.
A personal schedule for Biden obtained by Fox News also listed an aide named “John” as going in his place to the Gridiron dinner that weekend.
The conflicting claims come as Biden is denying a separate allegation made by former staffer Tara Reade that he sexually assaulted her in 1993.
The details of Biden’s schedule in May 2008 surfaced after Law & Crime reported on Murry’s claims. The outlet said Murry is the niece of Christine O’Donnell — a Republican who ran against Biden for the Senate that year and later mounted another unsuccessful bid for the same seat — and often accompanied her aunt on the campaign trail. She claims the comment was made after Biden and her aunt greeted each other.
“When it was Biden and my aunt’s turn to say hello he quickly turned to me and asked how old I was,” Murry told Law&Crime. “I replied with my age and he replied with the comment, ‘Fourteen? You’re very well endowed for 14!’”
“I was confused but it was definitely weird, he looked me up and down and hovered his eyes on my chest so I had some clue [about] the notion of his comment but didn’t fully understand at the time,” she said. “We quickly separated from his area after the encounter.”
O’Donnell, though, backed up Murry’s account on April 8 after she first addressed the claims in a Facebook post, which is no longer available to the public. O’Donnell, in her own Facebook post that remains viewable, wrote: “I will never forget that day. It was not only the words he said, it was the beyond-creepy way he looked her up and down. She was only 14 years old.”
On Friday, O’Donnell also told Fox News she could confirm Murry’s story, and said she was there at the time.
“I was right there when it happened. It wasn’t just … what he said, it was the way he eyed her up and down when he said it. It was beyond creepy and utterly inappropriate,” O’Donnell told Fox News. “She actually stopped coming to as many campaign events with me because just knowing he might be there made her feel uncomfortable.”
Asked on Sunday about the organizer’s statement that Biden never attended that year, O’Donnell stood by the accusation, while acknowledging to Fox News that it could have been a different year.
“Yes, it could have been another year. So what? She was a teenager when I ran for office. It doesn’t make it okay,” she wrote to Fox News. “It happened when I was running for office against him. If it was 2007, that makes it even worse.”
Fox News was unable to reach Murry.
But several friends of Murry, as well as her older sister, told Law&Crime that they were told about Biden’s remarks at the time or within a few years of the 2008 event.
In an updated version of their original story, Law&Crime quoted her sister Jenna Murphy addressing the discrepancies in the record. She, too, stood by her sister’s claims while acknowledging the date could be mistaken.
“I don’t think Eva would have gotten the person wrong,” she reportedly said. “She named him really specifically at the time and saw him several times after and recognized him as the person who made the comment. If anything, maybe she could have confused the date, but I really don’t think she could have gotten the person wrong.”
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.