The claim: Joe Biden was “arrested” for “following women” into an “all female dorm room” during the early 1960s at Ohio University when he was a visiting college student.
Admittedly, the Instagram headline is a grabber: Video emerges showing Biden admitted he was arrested for ‘following’ women. Clip from 2008 shows Biden confess to arrest in all-female dorm room in Ohio.
“There’s a pattern emerging here,” says the post from Mariana Hirmas, an ardent Donald Trump supporter with more than 33,000 followers who called the “newly unearthed” video “yet another blow to Joe Biden’s scandal-ridden campaign.”
The source for this shocking news?
Biden himself. Well, mostly.
Biden describes his visit in 2008
The story emerged from an anecdote Biden shared Oct. 15, 2008, during a campaign stop at the Athens County Fairgrounds, not far from the Ohio University campus, as Barack Obama’s running mate.
Oddly, the Instagram post links only to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer describing Biden’s remarks, not a video of Biden itself.
Yet news accounts from the visit confirm the gist of the post.
The most detailed is from Ryan Corsaro, embedded with the Biden campaign for CBS News, and now with network affiliate WBBM-TV in Chicago. Corsaro recounts how Biden laughingly told of visiting the campus decades earlier for the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens football game vs the OU Bobcats, and “made a little mistake.”
"I wandered in, I met this lovely group of Ohio University … students," Biden said winkingly to laughs from the crowd.
"And uh, without knowing it, I shouldn't admit this on national television because it'll reveal that I'm over 60, but I thought that we were gonna go get something to eat. What's that street you have down there, all you guys?
See, I … and so I just said to young, two young women I had met, said well why don't you … we'll be right back, I said well I'll come with you, and they said okay, and I walked into their dormitory and was immediately accosted by a cop who arrested me because back in those days men were not allowed in women's dormitories.
"But I promise you I never breached the first floor and it was only a temporary detention. But that's what I most remember about Athens.”
The key portion about Biden walking into the dorm and being arrested also showed up in accounts by AP, CNN and The Post, the university’s independent student newspaper. The remarks drew laughter from many of his estimated 1,000-plus listeners. Then-Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. Sherrod Brown and then-state Treasurer Richard Cordray also were on hand.
A revision in 2012
The anecdote apparently went over so well that Biden pulled the chestnut out again during a return campaign visit to Ohio University on Sept. 8, 2012. But the gaffe-prone Democrat revised a key detail:
“The last time I was here, I want to be clear to the press, I didn’t get arrested, but I almost did.”
And he said when he went to the women’s dorm, “I thought I was walking into the waiting room.” He added, “I got escorted out very quickly by an Athens policeman.”
Oh, and his college’s team beat Ohio U. that October 1963 day, 29-12.
The CNN clip featured in the Instagram post characterizes Biden’s 2008 story as a “playful admission.” And it is worth noting that accounts of the dormitory story do not go beyond him entering a building in which women lived.
Of course, this was years before the #MeToo movement sprang to life. And the world had yet to hear of various allegations from women against Biden — most notably Tara Reade, who accuses him of sexually assaulting her when she worked for his Senate office in 1993. Biden denied the accusation.
The host of Biden detractors citing the video, most of whom make no references to Trump’s troubling encounters with women over the years, are saying it shows Biden displayed untoward behavior toward women since the time he became an adult.
CNN in 2008: “[Joe Biden] playfully admitted he was arrested more than 40 years ago. ... He said he was attending a football game between his university and Ohio University, and he mistakenly followed what he called ... ‘a lovely group of women’ into an all-female dormitory” pic.twitter.com/IHsKSi7ds2— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) May 8, 2020
Our rating: Partly false
We rate this claim as PARTLY FALSE, based on our research.
It is true that while on a visit to Ohio University, Biden walked into a women's dorm and encountered a law enforcement officer.
It’s easy to debunk the part about Biden being in a women’s “dorm room.” There is zero evidence of that. It’s a huge difference being inside a women’s dorm room rather than in a first-floor hallway.
And whatever offense Biden committed, it was for being in a girl’s dorm — not for the much more creepy-sounding assertion that Biden admitted he was arrested for “following women.” Those two words create an entirely different implication than just wandering into the first floor of a dorm and being quickly stopped by an officer.
The more difficult judgment comes on the part of the post about Biden being “arrested.” In defense of the headline, there is no dispute from accounts of the speech that is the word Biden used in 2008. No police record has been produced; Ohio University police say it’s dubious such records from 1963 still exist.
So that makes Biden the sole source of the information at this point, and he corrected the story in 2012 when he apparently was under no pressure to do so. Accounts of the newer speech are more widely available, including easily accessible video. But those got nary a mention in the Instagram posting.
Thus the standard used in some libel lawsuits — reckless disregard of the truth — seems appropriate here.View this post on Instagram
🚨There’s a pattern emerging here🚨 In yet another blow to Joe Biden's scandal-ridden presidential campaign, a video has emerged from 2008 that shows the former vice president admitting he was arrested in Ohio after he was caught following women into an all-female dorm room.The newly unearthed clip shows CNN reporting that Biden told a crowd in Ohio that he was “arrested” for following a group of young women into their dorms. #Creepy #joebiden #joe #democrats #democraticsocialism #election #election2020 #2020 #usa🇺🇸 #vote #votered #trump #donaldtrump #president #4moreyears
Transcript of Joe Biden speech, Ohio University, Oct. 15, 2008:
CBS NEWS: Biden talks about a youthful indiscretion
YouTube: Excerpt of Joe Biden speech, Ohio University, Sept. 8 2012
CNN political ticker: Biden remembers college arrest
Associated Press (via Huntington, West Virginia, Herald Dispatch: Biden touts infrastructure projects in Ohio
CNN: A complicated life and conflicting accounts muddle efforts to understand Tara Reade's allegation against Joe Biden
Twitter: Tweet by and replies to Ryan Saavedre, Daily Wire reporter
JoshWho News: Video Emerges of Biden Admitting He Was Arrested for ‘Following’ Female College Students
ABC News: List of Trump's accusers and their allegations of sexual misconduct
The Dispatch is part of the USA Today Network, whose fact-checking is funded in part by a grant from Facebook.