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. KampungHighlander

    If he is smart he will just admit it, his supporters won't care about this. A Rich and Powerful guy trying to screw those beneath him, what could be more Republican than that?

    October 31, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  2. Todd

    And so begins the media's attempt to take down Cain in any way possible.

    October 31, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  3. jefflazrn

    Conservatives will be thrilled that Cain is heterosexual.

    October 31, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  4. chuchsheen9

    Liberals tried to do the same thing with Clarence Thomas. All allegations were proved to be false. Interesting that there was even a book written about how the Obama administration treats women badly and CNN did not do a story on it.

    October 31, 2011 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  5. Jeff

    First, it should be a requirement for all politicians running for office to ask their first audience after announcing the following question with the following preface.

    "Since I have announced my intention to run and since this is the first audience, I am required to tell you that I would like to have sex with some of you in the audience. I am human after all. Without sex the human population would cease to exist. Please tell the scumbag publications, websites and all media if asked that I did discuss sex in front of you and with witnesses present. We can no longer allow this type of slander to take us away from the important matter of governing."

    October 31, 2011 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  6. thing55

    "Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment," Cain asked, as if this happens to everybody.

    October 31, 2011 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. mm

    I wonder why these women always wait for years to come forward? If someone do you wrong why not let it be known. I guess the money was sweeter than telling to protect other women. If this is true and he did the same to other women after them then they are responsible for not turning him in and shame on them.

    October 31, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  8. Sharp

    Gaming the boss with these kinds of bogus complaints has become all the rage since Women's Liberation became the law of the land. From the story we see that these women got five figure bribes for incidents in which not a hand was put on them. does anyone else think that perhaps things have gone a bit too far?

    October 31, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  9. Kathy

    This reminds me of what Governor Nikki Haley of SC went through. Just before the election, she was falsely accused of having an affair. Voters understand dirty politics, and this has a way of backfiring. I look for this to increase Cain's popularity.

    October 31, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  10. Ron

    I suppose if you dig enough there is bound to be some dirt in everyone's past Herman Cain is no exception....let's see how this plays out.....

    October 31, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  11. Everaldo Jones

    I don't think a little sexual innuendo should stand between The Country and the Leadership it needs. WE are elelcing a commander-in-chief, not a pope.
    The one of you that is without sin, go ahead and cast the first stone.

    Democrats for Herman Cain

    October 31, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  12. Bigred

    Is there any reason why anyone should care about this man's inappropriate behavior? Based on his experience in politics, his real grasp of America's political and economic realities, and his knowledge of the works of Washington the sum quantity of which amounts to zero, we would be hard pressed to find a less capable candidate. It would be like giving an electrician the job as head brain surgeon in a hospital. The result would be hilarious.

    October 31, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. Desmond, A Canadian

    Here they come, typical GOP dirty smears, completely predictable. A sign that Cain is a force to contend with.

    October 31, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  14. TEW

    All Cain has to do is to either confirm or deny the story. By the actions of his campaign to continuously duck the question spells guilt and as a result an almost immediate rebuke of the folks who catapulted him to stardom. This can only be the GOP who deep down would never consider the idea of having a minority particularly a black man represent their party on a presidential or vice presidential level. Welcome to reality Mr. Cain. You should have learned from Mike Steeles example.

    October 31, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  15. adam

    Heh. It seems like the libs will do anything to avoid fighting a black candidate. What's the matter? That race card getting worn? A little unwieldly? Afraid to run on your own principles? Or were you own principles only class envy and racist fear?

    October 31, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  16. BeverlyNC

    Cain was never qualified to be a "candidate". He has made ridiculous statements, taken absurd positions, talked in circles so much seasoned reporters have no clue what Cain is saying. Cain is arrogant, in love with himself, and I have no doubt he would harrass women. All the Republican candidates are not leaders and make bigger fools of themselves with each day that goes by. Republicand have done NOTHING for the PEOPLE and deserve to ALL be voted out.

    October 31, 2011 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  17. Brian

    This will qualify Cain to be a Supreme Court judge.

    October 31, 2011 01:08 am at 1:08 am |

    Sinking faster than the Titanic. He should just say "yes I did it, let's move on." Now they will get him on lying. Same problem Clinton had. Should have just said "yup, did it, move on." Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result. All politicians are insane by that definition.

    October 31, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  19. Carl

    C'mon Politico. Let's have their names, let's get to the truth and stop prinitng libel unless you are willing to back up your story with facts.

    October 31, 2011 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  20. RobynH

    So, lots of bluster from Mr. Cain about how unfair it is that he is accused.
    But he never says that it is not true.
    I wonder if this is his implosion moment.

    October 31, 2011 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  21. SofGangsta

    We really can't find any better candidates among 300 million people than these clowns?

    October 31, 2011 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  22. Raisindetere

    Bibble thumpers are inherently misogynist and Cain is no different... even declaring he will forbid all abortions = regardless of whether rape or incest is involved – being the ultimate sexist pig control freak. He is nearly as dangerous as Rick Perry... who with his wife's help and at her insistence will turn this nation into Iran West.

    October 31, 2011 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  23. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    This shifty sleazeball will soon be gone from the political scene. Romney will be the Republican candidate, and Obama will beat him. It's as simple as that.

    October 31, 2011 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  24. spencer dillmann

    ooohh. i see . you mean he actually acted like a friggin man and flirted with women. yeah, thats terrible. he should be castrated. this is such a pathetic joke

    October 31, 2011 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  25. Erick

    Cain is done

    October 31, 2011 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57