Chicago woman claims Herman Cain wanted her to trade sex for job

Chicago woman claims Herman Cain wanted her to trade sex for job

Chicago woman claims Herman Cain wanted her to trade sex for job

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by ABC News

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 7, 2011 at 3:56 PM

(ABC News) - Sharon Bialek of Chicago became the first woman accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment to go public Monday, describing an alleged incident in Washington in 1997 in which the president contender, then the president of the National Restaurant Association stuck his hand up her skirt and tried to pull her head toward his crotch.
"I said, 'What are you doing?'" alleged Bialek, who said she had contacted Cain for help getting a job. "You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for."
According to Bialek, Cain answered, "You want a job, right?"
Bialek claims that after the incident she rejoined her boyfriend and told him that Cain had been "sexually inappropriate."
Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon immediately responded with a statement that said, "All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone."
Bialek appeared with attorney Gloria Allred at a press conference at New York's Friars Club. Two other women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Cain while he helmed the NRA, but neither has spoken publicly. According to the Associated Press, a third woman also alleges sexual harassment by Cain while working at the trade group, but said did not file an internal complaint because one of her coworkers had already done so.
Bialek, described by Allred as a Republican and the single mother of a 13-year-old, said she had come forward "to give a face to those women who cannot."
On Friday, an attorney for one of the other accusers said she would decline to come forward and discuss the case further. The Associated Press has reported that a third woman considered filing a complaint while working at the NRA but opted against it because a coworker had already filed.
Cain had denied the allegations of harassment, and has charged the presidential campaign of Texas governor Rick Perry with leaking the story. Perry's campaign denies any involvement, which surfaced in Politico more than a week ago.
After his Saturday night debate with fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich in Texas, during which he accused the media of failing to follow "journalistic standard(s)" in reporting the sexual harassment story, Cain told reporters that "everything has been answered."
"End of story," said Cain. "We're getting back on message, okay?"
On Monday, the Cain campaign greeted the announcement of Gloria Allred's press conference with a derisive Tweet: "Welcome to the campaign, Gloria Allred. What took you so long?"
Allred is well known for representing witness Amber Frey during the Scott Peterson murder case, the family of the late Nicole Brown Simpson during O.J. Simpson's murder trial and former Tiger Woods girlfriend Rachel Uchitel during the public controversy over the golfer's extramarital affairs.
Cain defenders have tried to turn the tables, with a commercial that paints the allegations as fabrications from rivals and the liberal media. It includes pointed comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who faced charges that of inappropriate behavior during confirmation hearings 20 years ago.
The ad, produced by a group called Americans for Herman Cain, ends with Thomas's closing statement at his 1991 hearings. "This is a circus," Thomas says in a video clip. "It's a national disgrace, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."
Americans for Herman Cain is a SuperPac that is independent of the presidential campaign.
Former employees tell ABC News that Cain was a regular on Washington's after-work bar scene, often with young women who worked with him at the National Restaurant Association, where he was president and CEO from 1996 to 1999.
Though some defenders say it was just Cain being personable and gregarious, Thursday the presidential candidate was pressed about new accounts that he asked one young female employee to return to his corporate apartment with him.
Cain told Fox News host Sean Hannity, "That is absolute fabrication, man," and said he had an apartment "near the airport because I traveled so much." Cain's wife Gloria had continued to live in Omaha after he took the job at the NRA, according to reports, and he often flew home to see her.
Cain told Hannity he never even made flattering remarks to an accuser he had allegedly asked to accompany him to his apartment.
"I didn't make those kind of compliments," said Cain. "I didn't say that she was hot, or that sort of thing. ... I know I didn't do that kind of stuff."
As ABC News has reported, two of the women who received settlements from the Restaurant Association are well known in government circles.
One, now in her forties, is single and registered as a lobbyist in New Jersey.
The woman who declined to speak publicly Friday is in her fifties now, married, and a spokesperson for a federal agency in Washington.
On Friday, she released a statement through lawyer Joel Bennett saying she was a victim of "a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances" while working for Cain at the National Restaurant Association.
"Mr. Cain knows the specifics" of the harassment complaint, Bennett said during a press conference in front of his Georgetown law office. "It had very specific incidents in it. If he chooses not to remember or to not acknowledge those, that's his issue."
Bennett read the woman's statement Friday afternoon after the restaurant industry association once led by the Republican presidential contender announced it would waive a confidentiality agreement that had barred her from discussing the harassment complaint she filed in July of 1999. Friday's disclosure provided few details about the specific incidents that led her to complain. However it did, for the first time, reveal that Cain allegedly made repeated, unwanted advances, and that there were alleged to have been multiple incidents over the course of "at least a month or two."
"She has decided not to relive the specifics of the incidents so I cannot give any further details," Bennett said.
Bennett said he did not want to characterize "what was physical and what was verbal," but that Cain's behavior "quailed as sexual harassment in our opinion."
 

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