Attorney for Cain accuser: Cain is lying
November 1st, 2011
09:45 PM ET
2 years ago

Attorney for Cain accuser: Cain is lying

(CNN) – A woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment believes the presidential hopeful is lying about the claims, her attorney said Tuesday night.

"She's been very upset about this since the story broke last Sunday, because Mr. Cain has been giving the impression she came out and made false allegations," lawyer Joel Bennett said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

He also maintained that the case was resolved in a sexual harassment settlement, not a termination agreement, as Cain has described in the last two days when talking about one of the cases.

The woman is one of two who were reported filing sexual harassment charges against Cain when he led the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, according to a story reported by POLITICO on Sunday.

Cain has since repeatedly denied that he has ever sexually harassed anyone.

She wants to go public with her side of the story, Bennett said, but she's confined to a confidentiality agreement with the trade group.

Bennett said he has not contacted the organization but has suggested through the media that the NRA waive the confidentiality agreement, freeing the woman to talk.

"Until they do that, she's not going to speak out," Bennett said.

The NRA said that Bennett had not reached out to the organization, but that NRA officials had seen reports of his request.

"If we are contacted by Mr. Bennett, we will respond as appropriate," said Sue Hensley, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, in a statement obtained by CNN.

Asked Tuesday night on Fox News if Cain would push the NRA to go along with the woman's request, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO said he couldn't answer the question because of "legal implications."

The new developments come after nearly two days of interviews and appearances in which Cain gradually released more - at times, inconsistent – information about the allegations.

But when pressed on the contractual agreement, Cain denied that he had violated the confidentiality terms himself, when he talked about the claims to the media.

"I never used their name," Cain said on Fox News Tuesday. "For one of them I didn't even know the name."

So far, Cain has only released details about one of the charges, saying it involved him gesturing to a woman that she was the same height as his wife –about 5 feet tall - and came up to his chin.

While Bennett did not indicate which client he was representing, he said that his client, to his recollection, was taller than 5 feet. He said she's also "happily married" and works for the federal government.

According to the POLITICO report, the other woman alleged that Cain made an "unwanted sexual advance" at a hotel room in Chicago.

Responding to those allegations, Cain has repeatedly said he does not recall doing that and has never sexually harassed anyone.

Earlier Tuesday, Cain blamed the passage of time for his inconsistencies in recalling the details of an allegation.

"This was 12 years ago and I was trying to recollect this in the middle of an already busy planned day," Cain told HLN, CNN's sister network, in an interview Tuesday. "After 12 hours during the day, I was able to gradually recall more and more details about what happened 12 years ago. ... I wasn't given the opportunity to think about it for the day before starting to answer questions."

Cain assailed what he called a "smear campaign" against him and didn't rule out the idea that an opponent from the right or left launched the attack as part of a "witch hunt."

Bennett, the attorney, said Tuesday night that, from his understanding, a "former board member of the National Restaurant Association leaked the story to POLITICO."

POLITICO reported separation packages were given to two former employees at the NRA in the five-figure range.

During an appearance at the National Press Club on Monday, Cain said he was "not aware of any settlement." But later in the day, Cain changed course, saying he did not know of an "agreement."

"The word 'settlement' versus the word 'agreement.' I'm not sure what they called it. I know that there was some sort of agreement, but because it ended up being minimal, they didn't have to bring it to me," Cain said in a PBS interview Monday.

He added that his counsel and the head of human resources at the association were in charge of handling the complaint.

"So it wasn't one of those things where it got above a certain authority level and I had to sign it," Cain said. "If I did - and I don't think I did - I don't even remember signing it, because it was minimal in terms of what the agreement was."

On HLN Tuesday, Cain said he remembers a "separation agreement," as opposed to a "legal settlement" with one of his accusers.

Cain described the incident, when the alleged offense occurred, as a conversation between him and a female employee about her height.

"The only other thing that I could remember when I was asked about any specific things that were in the allegation, I came up with the fact that I made a gesture by putting my hand under my chin, standing near this lady, saying, 'Oh, you're the same height as my wife,'" Cain said. "My wife is 5 feet tall, she comes up to my chin and I was simply making that comparison."

"We were in my office, the door was wide open and my assistant was sitting right outside," he added.

The financial settlement with the accuser "was in the vicinity of 3 to 6 months' severance pay," Cain said, adding that the payment was "not outside our guidelines for what most people get ... when they leave the Restaurant Association involuntarily."

He told HLN's Robin Meade he recalls nothing about a second alleged incident of harassment.

"Obviously, someone is encouraging them to bring it up now because I'm doing so well" in the political race, he said. "I absolutely believe that this is an intended smear campaign."

Cain said Tuesday that if could do Monday over, he would have waited to speak on the matter until Monday night when he had more time to recall the events surrounding the allegations. He also acknowledged it "looked like" he changed his story.

Cain, who has recently surged to the top of national polls, said the controversy may hurt his poll numbers, but would not affect his supporters, who he said "have not been shaken by this whatsoever." His campaign said it raised more than $400,000 on Monday.

"Yesterday [Monday] online we had one of our highest fundraising days in the campaign, one of the highest ever so what it has done, I believe, it has backfired on those who are trying to put a cloud over my campaign because they can't shoot down my ideas," Cain said Tuesday.

POLITICO described the alleged harassment as including "conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association's offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship."

Jonathan Martin, senior political reporter for POLITICO, told CNN Monday one woman was asked to come to Cain's hotel room. She complained to an association board member, and was one of the women who subsequently left the organization, Martin said.

Martin said POLITICO gave Cain's campaign 10 days to respond to the allegations. First, he was told the allegations had been "settled amicably by parties years ago," he said.

Ken Vogel, a POLITICO reporter and one of the story's authors, told MSNBC Monday the story stemmed from "a tip," but that "we are not going into the source of that tip."

When pressed on specifics, a Cain spokesman told POLITICO that Cain "vaguely recalled" the incidents and referred him to the NRA's general counsel, Martin said. However, the organization's personnel policy prohibits it from commenting, Martin said, and the Cain campaign would not say more.

Martin said he confronted Cain after his appearance Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." A CNN camera captured Cain responding to a series of questions from Martin.

"I'm not going to comment about two people that you won't tell me who they are," Cain said. "OK. That's like negotiating."

Asked several times whether he has ever been accused of harassment. Cain eventually responded, "Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?"

"He was given the chance to answer a very direct question," Martin said Monday morning. "He did not say 'yes' or 'no' to that question."

A spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association responded to the POLITICO report in a statement Monday.

"The incidents in question relate to personnel matters that allegedly took place nearly fifteen years ago," Sue Hensley, the NRA's senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement. "Consistent with our longstanding policy, we don't comment on personnel issues relating to current or former employees."

POLITICO said it spoke to a roster of former NRA board members, current and past staffers and others familiar with the workings of the trade group during Cain's tenure. The newspaper reported it also saw documents that described the allegations.

The women complained that Cain's behavior "made them angry and uncomfortable, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association," POLITICO said.

The newspaper said it confirmed the women's identities, but said it did not publish their names out of privacy concerns.

– CNN's Kevin Bohn and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain
soundoff (1,415 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    The official kickoff of High Tech Lynching season. Occurs at the same time always – when a Republican who happens to be black is succeeding.

    October 31, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. mike

    Like the rest of those clowns he can give it but can't take it. None of them are tough, they're just down right mean and evil . How does any of these contender republican/tea party clowns say they're running for POTUS and can't handle the truth let alone answer questions without taking it personal and getting mad when asked any questions that's not scripted for them. Not only do they look like clowns they are traveling circus clowns. Obamaa/Biden 2012, FIRE CONGRESS 2012

    October 31, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Guest

    So, he rapes a woman in the 90's and now runs for President? Only in America.

    October 31, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Anthony

    These kinds of charges are notoriously easy to make, which is why no one cares. Paying people off is also an easy way to get them to go away.

    October 31, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Jon

    Let's wait for verification before we go nuts here, shall we? And I'm a Democrat, by the way.

    October 31, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. BL Biggs

    ONE WORD...CLINTON. This Article Personally Makes Me Laugh! I Lived In AR when Clinton was Gov. & There were Rumors THEN. Distruction of "Visitor Logs" etc. So Much! I'm Sure Others have Brought Clinton up in This Matter...I haven't Read other Comment. THIS is Just My Comment...And I'm Serious When I Say IT Makes Me Laugh! AND They had to go BACK How Far???

    October 31, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. FelipeBR

    Because a politician would never lie to the public.

    October 31, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. littleriver2

    Ahhhh yes, it's the old "It's all a lie", routine. There's one thing for certain, truth will be told by his fellow GOP'ers. They're the ones on a witch hunt for the truth and we all know they are mean MF's.

    October 31, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Doc

    Typical comments, really typical. Allegations were made, never proven legit, the media picks up the story and now all of a sudden they have proven them true. And what about Cain? Why is it guilty until proven innocent AGAIN! Seriously, how many times does it have to be proven the charges are invalid before you people will believe what this man says? Looks to me like you hate him for something else and just looking for a reason to cut him down. Could it be he is a republican, maybe that he is a conservative, or a man, or is it that he is black?

    October 31, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. jack

    Yes mr cain why would we believe you. You lied about on national tv about comments you made about people who question the fed.

    you then throw the fed under the bus when it not convenient for you by saying things need to be fixed after it was brought to light by the people who wanted to audit the fed that there were bad practices going around OH LIKE SENDING US DOLLARS TO FOREIGN BANKS. when you pretty much said it was hogwash

    sure mr cain we believe you.

    October 31, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. MazeAndBlue

    Welcome to Washington Politics....

    October 31, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Thad

    Ok cnn i see youu guys are hard pressed for commercial funding so now its time to dig up dirt on a front runner so mittens the flip flop can get more space from cain. Really no wonder why ron paul wants to get rid of the department of education. All these journalisim majors up there at cnn getting stories from politico blogs. What a shame

    October 31, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. DiaK

    The restaurant and food service business are filled with these kinds of problems. it's the nature of the beast. Physically and esthetically demanding work in a co-ed atmosphere that is often hot, close, sometimes 'tight'. The pressure is high, the demands are high. Most professionals learn to 'blow off', ignore or laugh about an accidental bump here or there or an inconvenient reach around, over or under somebody. ESPECIALLY when they are working hard or in a hurry as they usually are.

    In a good environment with good leadership, employees will work together as smoothly as a well-run sports team. The occasional bad apple is sure to meet his demise, hopefully sooner rather than later, because people can't produce good things where they feel bothered, threatened, harrassed or frightened.

    On the other hand, bad leaders encourage bad behavior and, in the end, the business will suffer and probably die.

    October 31, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Chris - North Carolina

    Of course CNN puts this story front and center. Every conservative African American gets this treatment. The Left has no morals..

    October 31, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Sogooden

    If there was no basis, why were these women paid to keep quiet. Can't have it both ways.

    October 31, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. mike smith

    For the morons that say: "these women need to come forward". They did idiot , thats how he got accused, thats how they got a settlement. He needs to explain why he paid off those two women to keep their silence.

    October 31, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Don

    Don't take it personal Mr.Ccain because you're a threat now so the Democrats ar going to sling mud at you. It's alright if Bill "The Skirt Chaser" Clinton does an intern but they're going to try and bury you with this. You've got my vote Mr. Cain and don't worry about Obama and the Liberals because they're so stupid that they'll hang themselves. Case and point...they're protesting against banks and corporations but at the same time, using tents, umbrellas, and sleeping bags that are made bu them. What a joke.

    Also, Liberal Bob Schieffer of the Communist Broadcasting System (CBS) is giving you a hard time about the cig in one of your ads. Old Liberal Bob needs to retire and be put out to pasture. Obama admitted that he smoked but that's okay because he's a Liberal. Liberals are just hypcrites who will hang themselves. Go Cain!!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. April Garlow

    Herman Cain is not being hurt by this story–no matter what he may have said or gestured -there is no way it compares to the disgusting things that Obama, Dean and the Democrats did to Hillary. This lifelong Democratic woman is going to vote for Cain –he's smart–he's tough and he's got what it takes!

    October 31, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. PA girl

    Wait, wait, wait....
    Vetted? Obama was NEVER vetted! By any news organization! I can never conceive a day when the media would ever report his Socialist/Communist/Marxist connections. Look no further than the EPA and Executive Orders!
    Another CONSERVATIVE with his pants down? Can we say B L O W J O B in the Oval Office? You people are so liberally two-faced its disgusting! And the media came up with the most ingenious excuses for good ole Bill I have ever heard....and the meaning of the word "IS".... less we forget. Whats good for the Socialist is good for the Conservative!
    Conservatives are a little slower playing the ANTI-MORALS game but we are learning. The past 3 years of Socialist Media 101 has taught us alot. No longer do we have to aspire to a higher standard because Dummicraps have lowered the bar for the entire Nation.
    Herman Cain wants attention?!? Oblahblah has to be one of the most narcicistic attention loving idiots I have ever seen!
    Continue to spew your rhetoric....it only shows the true meaning of a Democratic Liberal who wants to tell other people how to control every part of peoples lives except their own. Every disgusting socially immoral situation is A-OK as long as it comes from a Democrat.
    Good luck getting any one to care what any of these Republican candidates have done in their past.

    October 31, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    And here comes the GOP/TP smear compaign. You knew the GOP/TP would not nominate a black man

    October 31, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. BEAR JEW

    Witch hunt...how appropriate with halloween ....

    herman cain is a fine man....so some trollops made allegations...I heard they were fired and then filed some factless charges...typical..happens everyday to stars, athletes, movie stars and ceo's.

    October 31, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Cameron

    If we find out that the women were African American, would Ann Coulter's "high-tech lynching" comment still be entertained? I hope she didn't shoot from the hip without all of the facts. No! Not Ann!!!

    October 31, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Collin

    Until someone can clearly explain how this affects his policy making abilities, I DONT CARE!!! The fact that people do care about stuff like this just adds to the proof that our political system is patheitc.

    October 31, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. joey.s

    He is lying through his red shot eyes.

    October 31, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. Byrd

    I never harassed nobody, but I paid six figures to stop any further questions that I might have....

    Herman Cain for President
    I'm the same as all the rest...Just ask my homeboy, Clarence Thomas.

    Come on, republicans. You truly aren't that clueless....now, really...are you??!!!

    October 31, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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