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. Robert

    Cain has reputation for great memory but can't recall much about this matter. He and his 9-9-9 plan are hopeless. Perhaps we should go back to the time when candidates were selected behind closed doors. Seems that we got much higher experienced and capable people back then.

    November 1, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. momomiester

    Sorry Herb...The dems will only allow you to be a perv if you are actually in the Whitehouse like slick willy Clinton...Have a cigar!..Or leave a girl for dead like Kennedy. They are miserable two faced losers. To be a lefty is to be mentally insane. But once we kick their worthless president out of power come the elections,we will take this country back..one way or another:)

    November 1, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Steve

    So he paid them off to make it go away. Sounds like a politician to me! He'll fit in nicely in Washington where money rules and we sit by idly believing we have a democracy. Maybe the figure he gave them was $99,999.

    November 1, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. No You Cain't

    This guy has a worse memory than John McCain. Maybe it has something to do with their names having Cain in them. His explanation of the gesture referring to height similarities is pure hogwash. His story changes every minute. If he just admitted he made a mistake he could move on, but his dodgy answers proves he's not ready for the big time where quick decisions need to be made everyday.

    November 1, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. Embroiderista

    I think that it's Herman Cain's campaign that posts all of the positive response about him. He's a bonehead with no plans, except the one to use this "campaign" to promote his next book or "motivational" speaking tour.

    November 1, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Dogman

    It's not the fact that he did this (innocent people do not settle). It's the fact that he's trying to cover it up which questions his character. Haven't these guys learned from Edwards? Don't lie. Now get lost.

    November 1, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Sniffit

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

    Take a second and a deep breath. Now...do you really think that the lying and misdirection and confusion and several different answers and obfuscation in which Cain has engaged over teh past 72 hours or so wasn't planned? OR that it's not effective in giving people who support him just enough of a toehold to excuse his behavior and assuage their confirmation bias that it's all just a smear campaign?

    November 1, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. Jackie

    She needs to give the money back if she is going to raise such a stink. Sounds like a female dog in heat.

    November 1, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "How is it a "smear campaign" when it's something that actually happened."

    The GOP/Teatrolls hate truths that are contrary to their chosen perception of reality...it's horribly unfair for reality to disobey them and how they have decided everything is and should be.

    November 1, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. Joe

    Anyone who understands lawsuits KNOWS that the person getting the settlement is bound by contract NOT
    to disclose any details of the alleged crime or the payment. They forfeit any settlement money which must be
    returned if they disclose details of the settlement. Trust me, this is fact!!! They're not allowed to talk about
    the case or settlement!!!!

    November 1, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. tstorm

    How in the WORLD does a guy run for president and not think that EVERYTHING he or she has in his past won't come to the surface?? This guy is either totally naive or just plain stupid. Either quality makes Cain unfit to become president.

    November 1, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. abtime

    15 minutes of fame over

    November 1, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. FNR

    No he thought this was going to go away and now he remember detail by detail. This guy is a joke.

    November 1, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. independent

    Mr. Cain is not better than Alan Keyes. Mr. Cain will lose to Obama badly if GOP does not remember the experience of 2004 senate race in Illinois. Cain and Keyes can talk and they have not done a single remarkable thing. Do you really expect the independents will vote for Cain over Obama? I voted for Obama in 2008 and hope someone in GOP can give us a better direction. If between Cain and Obama, I will vote for Obama since Cain has a chance to lead our country into disaster.

    November 1, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. FNR

    I assume this clown thought this was going to go away.. and now his memories are coming back little by little. This clown is a joke.

    November 1, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    Bad memory or classic flip flopping cover-up? Cain's days as a top tier candidate are over!

    November 1, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. BM

    999,909 and now it's she is 9 inches tall the same hieght as my wife, hahahahaha Herman your lying again!

    November 1, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. SDFrankie

    I don't know anything about any sexual harassment allegations.
    Ok. Maybe there were some allegations but nothing that required a settlement.
    Ok. Ok. Maybe there was a settlement, now that you mention it. But I don't know any details.
    Ok. Jesus. Maybe there were two settlements but they were small. Maybe two months salary.
    Ok. Maybe three months salary.
    Six months tops.

    November 1, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. minnesotasu

    Where there's smoke there's usually a fire.

    November 1, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. garc

    Eeeeeee-jut. Every time he speaks he changes his story a little. The "uhs" and "ums" and uncomfortable body language alone would give it away. Now it's "settlement" versus "agreement." Remember how the right-wing wackos loved to go over and over the "definition of 'what 'is' is'"? Odd how it doesn't seem to count when it's one of their own.

    November 1, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. nick2

    It looks very much as if Cain is grasping for cover. It did not need to turn out this way. It turns out he had two full weeks to go public with his 'recall of the facts'. It also turns out that he suddenly remembered a huge amount of minute detail, but still feels it necessary to suppress the terms of the substantial settlement that allowed to women to take early retirement. Go figure.

    November 1, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. Rob

    Is it a smear campaign? Gee, I dunno – can you give me an example – maybe like your party has done to Obama since day one? Pony up nancy boy...do you have Reagan's Alzheimer's? First it didn't happen. Then you recall something. Then you recall more. Then you recall even more and even having paid the person to shut up. Pretty soon you're going to be in Clinton's shoes. Smear campaigns are when people tell lies about you. A TRUTH CAMPAIGN is when people reveal the truth. Just another lying Republican trying to cover up who they really are.

    November 1, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. G-nO-P

    Cain is finished ... toast ... his blackened walnut sundae has melted.. and , like the REST of the GOP Field, he has shown himself to be nothing more than a cartoon character .a clown without a proper circus .... The GOP must really be getting into Panic territory as they scour the planet for the NoN-RomneY candidate ... but , in the end.. they will all buy a pair of Vice-Grip pliers and clench thier nose as they pull the lever for Williard Mitt Romney .... gonna be a FUN election cycle ... since the vast majority of Americans are very well aware that Standard & Poors expliained in Very Plain Language that the reaason they were downgrading us is because of Republican Behavior in Congress ... now, I'm sure that there are some, perhaps even on this site, whose lips are still so stained red from the juicy Kool-ade they've been guzzling over there at Faux News, that they still don't want to believe that the self inflicted gunshot wound to our credit rating was anybody but the republicans fault ... luckily , everythings in writing from the S & P , and while i realize that facts don't really matter anymore when it comes to the caliber of an elected republican, but it will hard to argue that silliness on here outside the faux news 'echo chamber"

    November 1, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  24. VOTE EM OUT

    seriously why do "we the people" put up this WWF match every 4 yrs? Before the dust clears these fools will have kissed and make up in public. politics is a dirtier business then sewer working and lest the sewer worker gets better treatment from his fellow sewer workers. I wish more Americans would wake up to this game they are playing, stealing, lying and making up controversial nonsense. we one thing for sure, you can't blame Obama for this, its got conservative written all over it. Life is too short for this silliness!

    November 1, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. scott

    So Herman Cain has game after all.

    November 1, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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