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

    No serious thinking person in America would even entertain, for a moment, the thought that Mr. Cain would or could become the 45th president od the USA.

    This is a sad CEO of Godfather's Pizza, who's own Board of Directors asked he to resign in 1996... and he did!

    Hs solution to America's economic problems is the price of his pizza: $9.99!

    His solution to abortion – filp- flop – and finally NO EXCEPTIONS!

    Now we find out he is a bit too casual with the ladies... who really cares?

    Mr. Cain KNOWS he will never be elected president, all of America knows that!

    He is a magic MARKETING PROFESSIONAL. using his skills to make $$$, only that and NOTHING MORE!

    October 31, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. SaveRMiddle

    This man would dismantle our middle class even faster than the recession has. I could care less about his past. His proposals on fixing our economy cater entirely to investors and as usual the wealthy.

    October 31, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. CarolO

    I wouldn't be surprised one bit by the way Cain also talks about electrocuting illegals, how people are poor because they are lazy and how he even degrades his own race. His staffers, he claims, “are only to talk when talked to.”

    He’s an empty suit. A professional CEO that went from company to company without staying anywhere for long if you read his bio. Something like 5 companies in 10 years? He also left as banking chairman after one year. CEO’s and banking chairmans are not replaced after a year unless something is amiss.

    He retired at 51 years old? Sounds to me as he had some problems trying to stay employed but when you think you are better than everyone else, then you should work at home in your basement, not in The White House.

    October 31, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Annatala

    "If more allegations come, I assure you, people will simply make them up," Cain said.

    He then paused solemnly. "I especially assure you that people will make up any and all allegations which may involve in either direct or tangential manner sexual escapades featuring farm animals, Scottish cuisine, puppetry, or puppet-related paraphernalia," Cain added in a confident tenor.

    October 31, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Dan, TX

    Is this a Perry or a Romney supporter doing this. It is nothing but a high-tech lynching. Cain is the strongest candidate and the party "bosses" don't like it because he won't kiss their rings.

    October 31, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Brian

    Another case of a guy with lots of money, getting away with it

    October 31, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Max

    No surprise!

    This is typical of republicans who are conservative to the point where sexual innuendos are just a part of conservatism. They are all the same. The attitude is 'Look at me, I'm holier than thou', and in doing this they put down everyone else who're not republicans.

    As mentioned above, there's a long list, and no one is surprised when anyone of them is revealed. Look at Chris, Craig, Foley and Gingrich...and now Cain? they all professed to be HOLIER THAN THOU until they're caught with their underpants down.

    When the next one is revealed, there will be NO SURPRISE! How can we ever trust these holier than thou republicans?

    October 31, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Tell it like it is CNN

    "Cain dodged a question about the allegations."

    Since the AEI moderator told the audience they would only take questions related to fiscal policy, how is this construed as dodging a question? The "question" was not allowed in the first place and Cain was indeed playing by the rules, unlike the questioner.

    October 31, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Ex Republican in Texas

    Corporate lawyers NEVER settle unless there is a REASON.
    WHY do you think the women had to sign non disclosure documents?
    Answering a question with a question is EVASION and ALWAYS makes you look GUILTY!
    WHY NOT JUST DENY the allegations?
    C'mon CAIN, TELL THE TRUTH! If you're innocent just say so. Otherwise you look guilty as hell!

    October 31, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    Cain is a "Family Values" republican - that makes him immune - NOT.

    Palinitis at it's best -- WAAAAAAA THEY'RE PICKING ON ME

    October 31, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. William

    Happy Halloween. "dem bones in da closet, they be rattlin"

    October 31, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Ang

    The accusations are true!! He is only running to sell his books and get top dollar for speaking engagments!!! I was wondering when this information was going to come out!! I guess they didn't figure he was going to get this far in the game!!

    He use to call him self the HERMINATOR!!

    October 31, 2011 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. sunpacific

    What the press needs to focus on is his misguided regressive tax plan which will shift the tax burden from the rich to the middle class & poor. Sorry, but we know for a fact now that trickle-down-economics does not work. As for Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and that poor excuse for a news channel, Fox News, are the ones that need high-tech lynching for making these right-wing-zealot-conservative teapublicans sound like they are more popular than they actually are.

    October 31, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Cedar Rapids

    "A True Centrist

    "The same Politico that was accused by the liberal 'media matters' as having a republican slant, and Politico came out and said yeah, ok, thats probably fair........yeah, that Politico."

    @ Cedar – Ok, I provided several specific examples and you provided the opinion of a left leaning organization. When did Politico come out and say they were conservative?"

    In 2007 Ben Smith in replying to Media matters said it was a fair comment as it seemed they were getting too close to the White House. Other editors disagreed and pointed to the the right claiming they had a liberal bias.
    So the net result is they never said they were republican, and by the same token they also never said they were democrat either. Both are opinion and both sides have accused them of bias.

    October 31, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Terry

    Sorry, if Cain did nothing wrong, why did two women receive several thousand dollars, and a gag-order that prevents them from speaking about the sexual harassment charges? If Cain wants to clear his name, have him lift the gag-orders on these women, and let the vetting process begin. Why is it that corporate executives and high placed elected officials believe they are above the law when it comes to sexual harassment?

    October 31, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Cedar Rapids

    "Democrat Party – leftist "progressive" socialist communist losers hellbent on destroying the USA

    If Bill Clinton's behavior in the Whitehouse wasn't an issue, why is this an issue?"

    and by the same token, if it was an issue why isnt this an issue?

    October 31, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Bill

    Where there's smoke (financial settlements & nondisclosure documents), there's fire (questionable actions).

    October 31, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Max

    Hiding out

    Cain was just hiding out in the garden. The biblical Cain killed his brother Able and hid in the garden until he was found. This Cain, however, not only killed his brother, but he shot himself in the leg...thus killing his own quest for the teapublican nomination. Did he actually expect to get away with this? Give me a break!

    Obviously, hiding out didn't work for Cain as it didn't work for Foley, Craig and Gingrich, to name a few.

    October 31, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. Independent

    GOP leadership is getting nervous. Democrats would not put this out there at this point, their "Glass House" on this issue is well known. They (the DEMS) don't need to get into the fray at this point, the GOP candidates are going to fillet each other. It is a non-issue except for the conservative base of the GOP, who like to pole their noses into everybody elses bedroom while their own is off limits

    October 31, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Steve/CT

    I could care less about these charges. What scares me about Cain is the number of people on his staff from "Americans for Progress". Even the guy who wrote up the 999 Plan is from AFP. AFP is the Political Arm of the KOCH Brothers. Cain is just a shill for these lords of industry.

    October 31, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Ken

    SO lets see .. Politico writes a story with unsubstantiated allegations of an alleged settlement, they provide no names and no proof. Cain says there was no such incident. And Politico's and others response is "We'll you need to address these allegations". Unbelievable. They make claims, ask him to address the claims, he says there was no such incident, and then press forward with saying he has to address the claims. Saying there was nothing like that is not addressing it? OH wait, he didn't give an answer their one sided views can accept. To his challenge of "you provide names and proof this happened and was settled", their answer is "well, it's all sealed and they can't speak about it so even if we gave the names, they have to be quiet". What WONDERFUL character assasination tactics. We have a story you have to answer to but the people in the story can't step up to prove it .. it's up to you candidate to disprove it. And since you can't prove a negative, no matter what he does they screw him.

    October 31, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Progressive from Georgia

    The media has an obligation to ask Cain about these allegations. Women who are sexually harassed often do not come
    forward because many sexists and naive individuals do not believe such allegations. Also, women are often shamed into
    keeping acts of sexual harassment secret. Second, Ann Coulter is the quiessential hypocrite. When Tea Party members and other Republican conservatives charge that Obama is a Nazi, Communist, or spew other malicious words against him that is okay with her. I guess the phrase "high-tech lynching" only applies to Black conservatives and not to Black liberals according to Coulter. She is a piece of work.

    October 31, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Terry

    Hey Mr. Cain, if you are innocent, why did you need to ay those women tens of thousands of dollars, and issue a gag-order after they accepted the money? The corporate answer to "Sexual Harassment" - "Where do you want the money mailed?"

    October 31, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. UpsetinCA

    I love how the POLITCO chap "gave" the Cain camp 10 days to respond. How generous – like they somehow set ultimatums. I love how they onlyt thing to drag up is a 15 year old story where all the witnesses will have wilding differing views on what happened, in large part because over time our minds shape memories to be what we want them to. In other words, if a woman "thinks" she was harassed (not passing judgement one way or another), over time, her memory will actually reform to substansiate that belief. Meanwhile, Cain, who didn't thing he did anything, his memory may have also evolved to put a different spin on it. And by the way, in most cases, unless the "harassesment" is direct and vulgar proposition, its usually on the plaintiff to have shown they took action to have it stop. In other words, if they felt his gestures were inappropriate, they have the obligation to notify him that they find it offensive, not just call a lawyer and claim harassment.

    October 31, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. HiroAkita

    Just because he's a great business man doesn't make him good for politics or representing people. It seems he's forever re-phrasing his responses to suit who he's talking to. Not the guy I'd vote for.

    October 31, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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