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. Brendose

    Of course, Cain is going to challenge the women to step forward. And he knows they cannot because they received a SETTLEMENT which includes a gag order! A lot of people on here are complete morons. If they talk, they would be sued for breach of contract. I guess they could always make the money back through talk shows, since people love to pay for senseless crap and drama. Cain should have just said yes. I guess he didn't take notes when this happened to Clinton. What people don't fail to realize is if he had a claim against him, that meant the women could not take it any longer. Usually, the complaint comes after several instances, not the first event.

    October 31, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Herman Cain is ignorant, and he's not making an efort or trying to make it fashionable to speak the way he speaks. This IS the only way he knows how to speak. The same was true with George W. They can't help it.
    On the other hand , President Obama is definitely NOT in that category. I've heard most of his speeches and have'nt heard the ing dropping that you're referring to. On the contrary, part of this President's charm and allure is that he's made being intelligent, poised, and able to function in ANY social circle here or abroad cool again. You certainly CANNOT accuse this President of dummying us down, and accuse him of being an 'elitist' out of the other side of your mouth. IMO.

    October 31, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. ian

    well, thats a shame.

    October 31, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "It sure is interesting how the MSM has a keen interest in Romney's faith yet totally ignored Obama's 20 year stint with an anti-American preacher."

    Yeah, nobody even heard about the Reverend Wright thing. It was totally hidden, not on the news ever, the GOP and it's conservative extremist army never even once managed to get the networks to print or show video of their rantings on the subject and the whole to-do that eventually resulted in Obama having to make public statements to address it and then leave the church...none of that ever happened and the public is still completely in the dark about it. Do you even listen to yourself speak or is it just sort of an uncontrollable autonomic response for you to go into "omg, liberal media conspiracy blah blah blah conservatives are being victimized waaaaaaaah I need a tissue" mode?

    October 31, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Democrat Party - leftist "progressive" socialist communist losers hellbent on destroying the USA

    Come to think of it, didn't the leftist MSM do this very same thing to John McCain in 2008? False accusations, never proven but put them out there anyways to intentionally damage a persons reputation. Weeks of front page smear and then if thay are lucky they get a page 50 retraction months later. Nobody ever gets fired for the smear. This sort of behavior has become SOP for the leftists.

    October 31, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    That should've been "effort" with two f's.
    Pardon my Cainism!

    October 31, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. D

    Who cares? The real issue is that he is clueless and dangerous.

    October 31, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Dan5404

    Mr. Caih is learning. Politics is nasty business and your past mistakes will come out when you run for offie. Of course it is political, of course it was several years ago,..but that's not the point. The only thing voters care about is whether he's really what he's purporting to be, which I seriously doubt.

    October 31, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Billdawg

    Truly, Herman Cain is going to be a liberal target. We can't have Black Men talking about personal responsibility and running as a conservative Republican or we'll have all sorts of people leaving that plantation.

    October 31, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Cedar Rapids

    Cain is not Abel.

    expect to see that on posters soon.

    October 31, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. cvf

    desperate, sad, pathetic democrats reaching far digging deep because they can't face the inevitable fact that their great president is a shame and will be going down...

    October 31, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Get Real

    These women extorted money from Mr. Cain obviously because he was wealthy. This kind of thing happens a lot when women of a certain sort find out a guy has money. Its called blackmail.

    October 31, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Liqmaticus

    This is obviously someone getting paid to try and derail his career. Always obvious when it comes out this long afterwards and they are rising to the top. Jealousy drives people to do horrible things and whoever is doing the actual accusing are probably just the pawns.

    October 31, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Judge

    A non disclosure agreement with the accusers gives Herman the right to answer he has not sexually harassed anyone. The details of such an agreement can and will be disclosed. Any money that has been exchanged for silence would be forfeited; however this would obviously be bad for Herman and his movement.

    October 31, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Liqmaticus

    This is obviously someone getting paid to try and derail his career. Always obvious when it comes out this long afterwards and they are rising to the top. Jealousy drives people to do horrible things and whoever is doing the actual accusing are probably just the pawns. /

    October 31, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    D: Who cares? The real issue is that he is clueless and dangerous.

    Excellent point, and I would add that, given he knows the GOP will never nominate him, he's pulling a "Palin" and using his campaign to sell his book, command high speaking fees after he drops out of the race (blaming the "liberal MSM" of course) and then angle for a juicy "guest commentator" spot on Fox.

    October 31, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. bilk7

    "he has a right to face his accusers"

    He did....and he paid them off!

    October 31, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Mac11

    Never convicted does not mean innocent.

    October 31, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. Pat

    This will not change my vote one way or another. Sure as heck isn't worse than Bill Clinton thats for sure. Nice try though. HERMAN CAIN in 2012!

    October 31, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. bilk7

    "Truly, Herman Cain is going to be a liberal target"

    A story like this gets leaked by someone who feels threatened by Cain's campaign. That isn't the "libs" right now. I'd look more at the Romney or Perry campaigns. They are the ones right now who fear Cain!

    October 31, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Wallster

    Anthony Weiner thought a few text pics wouldn't hurt him either... bye Hermey

    October 31, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. BB

    This is just stupid! It make the other party and the press look bad! Look at what the press and Republicans put this country through because of Bill Clinton and Monica. That should have stayed totally private, it did our country no good.
    Unless there is proof and reason to believe this is a real and ongoing problem for Cain, there should be no more said!
    The press will not manipulate who I vote for with their dirty tricks!

    October 31, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Joe

    The Roman Empire lasted 1,000 years, but only about half that time as a republic. The Roman Republic fell for many reasons, but three reasons are worth remembering: declining moral values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. Sound familiar? In my view, it's time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time. — Honorable David M. Walker. Comptroller General of the United States, head of the Government Accountability Office, 2008

    October 31, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. cigarman

    I would not vote for Cain, because of is 999 plan, although, Cain is correct about the allegations, the accusers should come forward with proof of the allegations if they want to demonize Cain. If I were Cain, I would look into these allegations with Politico and if the Politico Group cannot prove the allegations, then if I were Cain I would hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

    October 31, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Bill in Florida

    Nice to see the Rethugs swift-boating their own for a change...

    October 31, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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