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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP

Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman August 12, 2020

Fact-checking the pedophilia attacks against Joe Biden

If Your Time is short

  • There is no credible evidence that supports this claim. In Joe Biden’s more than 40 years of public life, we could find no news reports, formal accusations, complaints, arrests or investigations that implicate him in any sort of sex crimes involving kids.

It’s no secret that political candidates running for office face a barrage of personal attacks on the campaign trail — the 2020 presidential election is no different. 

One of the most egregious examples we have come across is illustrated by a flood of social media posts that claim Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee for president, is a "pedophile."

Allegations of child sex molestation are a prominent part of the QAnon conspiracy theory that suggests a "deep state" is working against President Trump’s success.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

We found no credible evidence that supports this claim. Pedophilia is characterized by an obsession of seeing children as sex objects, according to Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary: "A person who acts upon this obsession, by molesting a child, taking explicit photographs, and performing other acts specified by law, is guilty of a crime."

In Biden’s more than 40 years of public life — including two prior runs for the Democratic presidential nomination and eight years as vice president — there have been no formal accusations, complaints, arrests or investigations that implicate him in any sort of sex crimes involving kids.

Biden has been accused by some adult women of unwanted touching in public — and former Senate staffer Tara Reade accused him of sexual assault — but there have never been any credible accusations of Biden engaging in inappropriate conduct with children. 

Our searches of Google and the Nexis database, dating back to Biden’s Senate days, turned up no arrests, news reports, or authoritative testimonies of inappropriate acts by Biden involving children.

When we reached out to discuss the accusations, Biden’s campaign pointed us to a May 2020 statement that was issued in response to an Instagram post by Donald Trump Jr. in which the president’s son shared an image of Biden saying, "See you later, alligator" alongside a photo of an alligator saying, "In a while, pedophile," to his 3 million followers.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden, told the New York Times, "No repulsive, manipulative tactic will change the subject from how almost 90,000 Americans have paid for Donald Trump’s coronavirus negligence with their lives and how the booming economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden Administration is now suffering from depression-level job losses." The COVID-19 death count in the U.S., as of this writing, is over 164,000.

Trump Jr. later claimed he was "just joking" in a Twitter post, yet also repeated the insinuation by saying Biden should stop his "unwanted touching" and posted a collage of photographs of Biden with children at White House events.

Biden briefly addressed Trump Jr.’s actions shortly after, saying that what the president’s son was "trying to do is get something going on the internet" by repeating the claim often enough that people believe it.  

"It’s sick," Biden said during a Yahoo News virtual town hall. "But he is his father’s son."

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President Donald Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Dated photos of Trump with young girls, some of them doctored, have also spread on social media along with unproven allegations that he, too, is a pedophile.

Examining the images

On social media, the accusation is often accompanied by images, memes, GIFs and videos of Biden appearing to touch children inappropriately. The photos that are real often lack context. Others are not of him or have been deceptively edited to suggest something improper.

We found that these images are overwhelmingly captured at public events when he is posing for pictures or greeting people and many depict Biden showing affection toward his family.

For example, one photo, of Biden leaning down by a boy with his hand cupped on the child’s face, shows him comforting his grandson at the funeral of Beau Biden, Biden’s son who died of brain cancer. Another image from the funeral routinely used in posts shows Biden kissing the top of his granddaughter’s head as she stands holding her mother’s hand. Another shows Biden leaning in to kiss his grandson during his 2013 swearing-in ceremony as vice president.

RELATED: No, this photo doesn't show Joe Biden engaging in disturbing behavior with a boy

Some of the photos used in the posts were taken at various White House events over the years, and in multiple cases the parents have spoken out against claims that Biden behaved inappropriately around their children.

One often-used photo shows Biden touching a young girl’s arm as he leans in to whisper something as she looks slightly uncomfortable.

The image shows Maggie Coons, the daughter of Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, during her father’s swearing-in ceremony in January 2015. 

After the clip went viral, Sen. Coons, a Democrat, told Fox News host Chris Wallace that Biden was simply offering her reassurance and that his daughter didn’t think he was creepy. Coons said that Biden, who held Coons’ Senate seat before resigning to serve as vice president, has known his children their whole lives.

"I could hear him," Coons said in the interview. "He was leaning forward and whispering some encouragement to her about how, when he was sworn in, his own daughter Ashley was 13 and she felt awkward and uncomfortable."

Carly Melin, former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, spoke out on Twitter when a 2014 photo she took with Biden and former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., became the subject of a Twitter thread by conservative columnist Richard Armande Mills. In the image, Melin and Biden are both holding Melin’s son. Mills, a conservative columnist for Turning Point USA, wrote in the tweet that Biden is "an open sexual predator."

"Sir, I don’t know you," Melin responded. "You have tweeted out multiple photos of my infant son in a disturbing, misconstrued attempt to advance your political viewpoint. Delete all tweets that include my son. I’ve reported your behavior to Twitter. Thank you."

Our ruling

Social media users claim that Biden is a pedophile. There is zero evidence — no accusations, testimonies, arrests or investigations — that gives this claim any credibility.

Photos that supposedly support the claim are taken out of context or have been directly contradicted by the families involved.

We rate this Pants on Fire.

Our Sources

Facebook post, July 17, 2020

Facebook post,  July 23, 2020

PolitiFact, A photograph shows Joe Biden engaging in disturbing behavior with a boy., Feb. 17, 2019

PolitiFact, No, this isn’t a photo of Biden making out with a 15-year-old girl, May 28, 2020

Nexis search, Aug. 4, 2020

Google search, Aug. 4, 2020

AP Images, INAUGURAL SWEARING IN BIDEN, Jan. 20, 2013

AP Images, NEW CONGRESS SENATE, Jan. 6, 2015

CNN, Senator's daughter doesn't think Biden's 'creepy', Jan. 12, 2015

Twitter, Carly Melin post, Oct. 25, 2014

Twitter, Carly Melin post, Dec. 23, 2017 

New York Times, Donald Trump Jr. Smears Biden With Baseless Instagram Post, May 16, 2020

Forbes,  Biden Responds To Obamagate, Trump Jr. Pedophilia Attacks: ‘I Don’t Want To Get Down In The Mud With These Guys’, May 20, 2020

Business Insider, Donald Trump Jr shares Instagram meme that accused Joe Biden of being a 'pedophile', May 17, 2020

Email interview, Andrew Bates, spokesperson for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, Aug. 3, 2020

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