Short Take: Tara Reade, Expert From Antioch

Much has been made of the allegations against the presumptive Democratic nominee, but even an accuser has to earn a living. That, too, came under scrutiny following Tara Reade’s fingering Joe Biden as her rapist.

Then known as Alexandra McCabe, Ms. Reade testified as a government witness in Monterey County courts for nearly a decade, describing herself as an expert in the dynamics of domestic violence who had counseled hundreds of victims.

Meet an expert in “the dynamics of domestic violence.”Before reaching the “hard” details, there is the soft one. What made her an “expert” in anything? She was a  victim of spousal abuse? Assuming it to be true, that makes her a victim, not an expert. Contrary to the simpleton’s assumptions, it takes little expertise to be a victim. Pretty much anybody can do it. Yet there she was, on the witness stand, called by the state as an expert. And judges, over and over, uttered after the defense voir dire of her qualifications, “No, I’ll allow it.”

But “McCabe” had a story to go with her “expertise.”

Ms. Reade told The New York Times that she had obtained her degree through a “protected program” for victims of spousal abuse, which, court records show, she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband in the mid-1990s. That history, she said, caused her to change her name, leading to confusion about her status at the school. She later received a law degree from Seattle University.

Seems most accommodating of her circumstances, and Antioch is, if nothing else, accommodating. But that doesn’t make it true.

But an Antioch spokeswoman, Karen Hamilton, told The Times that while Ms. Reade had attended classes, she was certain Ms. Reade had not received a degree.

When subjected to questioning on the stand, Reade offered the usual fudging of details, as a good witness does.

In her testimony in the 2018 trial, Ms. Reade was questioned about her degree by Mr. Soltesz. She testified that she received a liberal arts degree, as was stated on her résumé provided by the district attorney’s office. “The focus was political science,” she said, according to a trial transcript.

Is “focus” the same as major? Whatever, she had qualifications to state.

Ms. Reade also told the court that she was currently a substitute teacher but had worked in domestic violence prevention for more than two decades and testified in more than 20 cases. Her career began, she said, in Mr. Biden’s office.

“I was a legislative assistant,” she said, according to the testimony. “He worked on the Violence Against Women Act, the federal act.”

Did anyone pick up on the non sequitur in her testimony? She claimed to be a legislative assistant (she was a “staff assistant,” not the same thing). He worked on VAWA. She never said she worked for him, with him, on VAWA, after which she became a substitute teacher with her law degree and, of course, an expert witness.

But both Mr. Soltesz and Scott Erdbacher, the lawyer for Ms. Vasquez, raised objections to Ms. Reade’s testimony, according to the transcript, saying they were skeptical that her work experience qualified her as an expert. The judge overruled them.

An expert witness is permitted to offer a jury opinions on matters they, as ordinary folk, lacked the necessary qualifications to understand. Reade did her expert witness job well. The defendants were convicted and sentenced to life on the expert testimony of a self-proclaimed Antioch alum.

6 thoughts on “Short Take: Tara Reade, Expert From Antioch

  1. Richard Foxall

    The rule in California whether a judge admits testimony of an expert is fairly permissive, which I have always translated as, “The prosecutor gets to put on any charlatan she or he wants, but your Nobel prize winning scientist is precluded, defendant.” Alas, Ms. Reade is just one of many prosecution “experts” with shady or no degree, including a recent fingerprint analyst who testified in one of my cases whose highest level of study was some online coursework from Liberty University. You know, the one with the Creation Studies department.

    Reply

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