Attorney for Cain accuser: Cain is lying
November 1st, 2011
09:45 PM ET
3 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. Joseph

    Yes, how dare the liberal media report things he actually did when presiding over a major corporation. And, how dare people be concerned that the incident in question might be a harbinger of his style in the unlikely event he is elected president.

    November 1, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Bob

    It's Cain's 12-12-12 plan, 12 years ago he committed the act, 12 days ago Politico warned him of the story, 12 hours after he lied about it he changes his story. I wonder if the settlement was $12,000?

    November 1, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    funny how he is never lacking in half-wit excuses. now THAT'S someone I want holding the world's most difficult job.

    November 1, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Rosa

    Oh BS, he was given 10 (TEN) days notice from Politico before running this story!!!! Why was he not better prepared to respond?

    November 1, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Pat in IL

    That he didn't have time to think about the answers being thrown at him is a crock. An intelligent, thoughtful person doesn't just throw out answers that he has to amend later, instead, would simply say something like 'I don't recall exactly what happened then but will respond in a press conference tomorrow', or something like that. I want a president who can think on his feet.

    November 1, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. JoeT

    Hardly surprising. Having a poor memory is a prerequisite to being a republican, much less one running for president.

    November 1, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Jeff from Park City

    Say goodnight, Herman.

    November 1, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. jb

    This IS a smear campaign, I really don't believe the Republicans are ever going to support Cain, and I think most people know why. He's made Perry look like the idiot he is, and his business, government service can stand up to Mitt Romney any day, so he's a threat to the racial elitist that make up the grand old party core.

    November 1, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. CNNuthin

    It is not like this is made up. These are events that did happen and if Candidate Cain cannot handle the Press now, how will he handle them if elected? He avoids questions, gets angry, and his campaign group is giving conflicting stories. This is not just about what happened in the past but how he will handle problems in the future. If he is hot tempered and turns tight-lipped now, what can we expect from him as a leader?

    November 1, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Observer

    This won't go away. If Cain is perceived as a serious contender by next Spring, I can guarantee you someone will pay these women to come forward and tell their story. The irony is that this is probably coming from his own Republican party....

    November 1, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Tom Walsh

    Clinton Rapes Women charged with Rape Clinton has Affairs for years as Governor, Plays Cigar Pin the Tail on Lewisnky Uses State Police to hide affairs and Transportation

    Obama Terrorist ties, Mob ties, Racist Preacher ties Hates Jews Anti Semetic No grades or Birth Certificate
    Cain is an Angel

    November 1, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Bill

    If it's false then take the gag order off the women and lets hear their side.Maybe they can't remember either.

    November 1, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Mark

    The fact that his campaign, and him, knew about this ten days ago make his claim that he is remembering gradually a complete and utter lie. This has nothing to do with liberal media at all, but rather a Right of center news outlet unearthing a story that should need answering. This is the process if you want to un for the highest office in the land. By the time this is done Politico will have exposed Cain for what he is (not a philanderer – couldn't care less about that), but a liar, plain and simple. If you've seen his campaign, add-on explanations have been required for many things he has said and done, and he has bent with the breeze/flip flopped more times than a Frenchman! Can you only imagine if Obama had been at the center of something like this... can you just imagine!!! Would Rush, Fox, Anne and the rest of the boys have been complaining about an ambush! Of course not; they would have been saying, "Well, we need to know this; it's about character and whether he's fit for office, we MUST find the truth here."

    November 1, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Cybersport

    I will not be voting for Cain because of his tax plan, but this seems like something orchestrated by the conservative wing of the Republican party. They can't stand the idea of nominating a black man

    November 1, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Mark

    The fact that his campaign, and Cain himself, knew about this ten days ago make his claim that he is remembering gradually a complete and utter lie. This has nothing to do with liberal media at all, but rather a Right of center news outlet unearthing a story that should need answering. This is the process if you want to un for the highest office in the land. By the time this is done Politico will have exposed Cain for what he is (not a philanderer – couldn't care less about that), but a liar, plain and simple. If you've seen his campaign, add-on explanations have been required for many things he has said and done, and he has bent with the breeze/flip flopped more times than a Frenchman! Can you only imagine if Obama had been at the center of something like this... can you just imagine!!! Would Rush, Fox, Anne and the rest of the boys have been complaining about an ambush! Of course not; they would have been saying, "Well, we need to know this; it's about character and whether he's fit for office, we MUST find the truth here."

    November 1, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Jean Sartre Milwaukee, WI

    Only Mr. Cain and the two women involved here really know if Mr. Cain is guilty.

    Some commenters want to compare Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Judge, who hates black Americans and is married to a White Lady, with Mr. Cain. That is quite a huge leap... [Anita Hill was RIGHT about Thomas!]

    Mr. Cain is simply a bewildered 65-year-old man sort of strolling in a campaign for president; he knows the Republic Party will not nominate him and he knows he will never be president, but, as a master marketing dude, he will make millions along the way, as will Bachmann, et al.

    Mr. Cain has 0-0-0 chances of being elected to anything!

    MITTENS will be the Republic Party nominee and he will lose to president Obama...

    November 1, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. strangerq

    " He’s still a brilliant, educated, uncorrupt from the government man with a plan."

    ^ If, only....he....... could..... re-mem-ber.

    November 1, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. strangerq

    "Who cares if he did or didn't that's between him, his wife and God."

    And maybe the woman he victimized too?

    ^ Oh sure. Bring that up. No fair, No fair!!!!!

    November 1, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. SPQR

    Mr. Cain could be suffering from Alzheimer or Schwindleing.

    November 1, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Psychologist

    Michele Bachmann visibly struggled with more than a mouthful of the giant corn dog, amongst other bites. Now Cain; well, not everybody enjoys meatlover's pizza, not even as flavor of the past (week). Moving on, what's next on the menu? Mormon soup? Texas trailerpark smorgasbord?

    November 1, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. strangerq

    A 'smear campaign'? Republicans – swift boat their own? NO!! At least Cain was born in America!

    ^ Lol. Indeed, unlike John Ma-Cain, who was born in Panama. :)

    November 1, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Nicole

    Hi you gay loving disgusting leftist wierdo don lemon glee loving amoral people hate Christians because of your sordid vile lifestyles... Print this!!

    November 1, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Patricksday

    The base of the GOP have no interest in following orders from a man of dark skin, regardless of the party. Cain preaches against Gay rights, I wonder how his people would of felt if Slavery was put on the Ballot and people voted for the rights of Black Americans?

    November 1, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. MagnumPIE

    There are 2 things I find hilarious about this story.
    1. The GOP trying to blame Democrats or the "liberal" media for this leak. Democrats would love nothing more (ok, maybe Bachman) than Cain to be the Republican canidate.
    2. Cain thinking anyone will believe the excuses for the evolution of his side of the story.

    November 1, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. JetsJets

    Claims it is a smear campaign. Well his fellows in the GOP are doing it to him. Maybe he just hasn't gotten the message, don't mess with the big boys Herman. Remember what they did to JF........

    November 1, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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