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. learntoread

    For those who are blowing off this article–read it AGAIN– cain admits he was accused but it was " falsey"...Politico has the records of the deals cut for the women to walk away–and the names– the reporter sat on the story for 3 weeks-he contacted Cain's office over 10x to get a rebuttal but they wouldn't answer the question...and you think nothing happend here?

    Hey folks– we're talking about being PRESIDENT... we need to know everything... stop the crap about obama's birth–we know where he was born-and, yes, Hawaii is a state still- we are worried about the leader of the free world here-we need the absolute TRUTH in the matter...

    Obama has carried himself as an international leader–bright, articulate, free of scandal....and guess what –his foreign policy has been remarkable....and if you're middle class or poor he's helped you as well... grow up–think-READ the story– this isn't a liberal attack–even ROVE has asked Cain to come forward and explain fully....

    Say goodbye to Cain-he will not outrun this if it has merit.... 9-9-9 ....from sim city...classic...guy's a joke...Anne Coulter calls it a "high tech lynching"...the jerks just can't stop can they?

    October 31, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. azz

    He's black they all say they are not guilty yet look how many are in jail / prison. Sorry i know that will offend some but look at the numbers. Now yes whites lie to but at least most are smart enough not to get caught, I guess what do you escpect form monkeys.

    October 31, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. The Other Michael in Houston

    Although it is stupid to put an allegation out there without proof, Cain has no chance of winning the Republican nomination nor would he have a chance of beating President Obama in a national election. Funny that he immediately played the "liberals are out to get me" card. Have you ever thought Cain that maybe it is your own party putting that out there because they do not want to see another African American President in the White House????? Oh and how ridiculus do some of you sound "Democrats for Cain". Seriously, you support a man that claims to be ultra conservative who shares no ideology with you????? Sounds like a divid an conquer move by the Republican party....I thought you PUMA's were dead.

    October 31, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Kate

    His campaign commercials promote smoking. I don't know how dense you have to be in this day and age to promote cigarettes. That alone should be a red flag that this guy is a moron.

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Annexian

    Great, just like "Uncle" Clarence Thomas, a black man can be propped up to an undeserved position of power as long as he's a shill for the rich elite who helps to bleed us dry.

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Adam Balm

    roflmao – typical of the right wing radical extremists – Herman Cain – You should've learned to keep your salami in your pants. Now you have just detonated another right wing radical nuke to blow your low-life Tea party out of the water. roflmao

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Larry L

    Ann Coulter thinks the "liberals" are treating a black conservative badly? This evil shrew who constantly spreads hatred and lies regarding the President thinks Cain is being treated badly? Anybody recall how she spoke of Bill Clinton when he was attacked by the Starr Commission? She's whining? Wah, wah, wah...

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. azz

    He's black they all say they are not guilty yet look how many are in jail / prison. Sorry i know that will offend some but look at the numbers. Now yes whites lie to but at least most are smart enough not to get caught, I guess what do you expect form monkeys.

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. shybou69

    Just get your wife to say she's no Tammy Wynette "stand by your man" type of woman. Deny it all.

    Actually, it doesn't matter since Herman Cain was never a serious candidate anyway, despite what the polls say. Bachman and Perry were never serious either. People were checking them out and their poll numbers rose. Then people said, "naw, not for me." Keep it mind that the media will start launching attacks against Romney once he gets the Republican nomination. Anything to get Obama re-elected. I doubt the media types would even deny it any more, such is their blatant favoritism.

    October 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. michael

    omg that witch anne coulter has to comment. just what he needs. so now liberals are lynching a black conservative. what doesnt she twist to fit into her little hate filled mind

    October 31, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Tommy

    None of this matters. Obama has already won the 2012 election. The GOP abandon the American people when instead of working with Obama on job creation through U.S. infrastructure updates (schools, bridges, roads....) they worked on social (religious) engineering legislation. They abandon the American people when they said they publicly said they wouldn't do anything until Obama was out of office. (how many of you would get fired if you told your boss you weren't going to work because you didn't like a co-worker) They abandon the American people when they sat on their hands and kept millions of people out of work to get one guy out of the white house. Sorry but it back fired. The GOP lost. None of this GOP candidate stuff matters. Obama has already won the 2012 election. Even IF they hadn't taken the American people hostage in their quest to get him out of office he will still win. The GOP has given the American people the worse possible choice ever. Mrs. me me me me don't know the facts Sarah Palin? How about Mrs. nutty don't know the facts either Michelle Bachman? The GOP actually had one candidate but they threw him to the side of the road because he wasn't going to pander to banks and corporations. He actually had some good ideas. Too bad the GOP is going the extremist way of the extremist Tea Party. I said, none of this matters Obama has already won the 2012 election.

    October 31, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. T'sah from Virginia


    CNN just played a clip from FOX News concerning Herman Cain's responce. I watched the entire interview in which Herman Cain denied every charge. Either CNN jumped the gun and did not watch the entire interview, OR they simply did not care about the TRUTH! October 31, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am | ◄

    Wow, and Fox News tells the TRUTH????

    This news came from other sources from the NRA – The NRA was NOT paid to keep their mouths shut – the victims were. I know if I was one of the VICTIMS at this time – I would be PIISSED because 1) the story came out AND 2) Cain is denying it.

    Ann Coulter put "Black" in this – What does she know about being "Black?" It takes a Black to know a Black and Cain can easily be figured out by MOST Black Americans!! Maybe this is why he called us – all those who are not what he's trying to be – "brainwashed."

    Cain is "typical" and no different from me, but yet he wants to ACT differently. I can read him and yes, he's a "funny" man, but there's NOT too much more about him. More will come out as he continues to pursue "selling his book" and then he will be gone – maybe get a reality show or a position on Fox News – but that would be the end of it – He would NEVER be president of the US and the far-RIGHT/RIGHT need to STOP acting like they "care."

    Obama 2012

    October 31, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. NO

    1st off, he should apologize for being republican. 2ndly, he should apologize for trying to convince us that he is a legitimate candidate. 3rdly, who didn't see a scandal involving him coming? Black men + white women is a dangerous mixture.

    October 31, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. stephanie

    I don't think the liberal media is behind this, it is someone from the republican establishment.

    October 31, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Thatguy371

    If the women left the organization after receiving "separation packages that were in the five-figure range", then there is some truth to the allegations. Nobody just gives money away for no reason.

    October 31, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    It reminds me of "Clarence Thomas VS Anita Hill' where Clarence Thomas defined the accusation as an "electronic lynching". Could it be coming from his fellow Republican candidates. If it is, then I won't be surprised at all.

    October 31, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. learntoread

    APRIL GARLOW– you don't care if it's true? You are "about the future"? Gimme a break. Wow– who cares if he was harrassing women when in a position of authority. How'd you feel about Clinton ? Somehow i feel you probably hated him...although he did manage to create 22 milllion jobs during his tenure...with higher taxes as well...

    The far right is more like a cult every day...

    9-9-9 the devils in the details...( i learned my economics at sim city...)

    October 31, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. tim

    Where is ted kennedy dropping his pants when you need him?

    October 31, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. icecold

    IDK if he hit on a few women or not, that's has nothing to do with why I dislike him. I dislike him bc he is an arrogant, bigot that believe his sh!t don't stank. He feels, as well as many other republicans, that if a 13 year old child is abducted and raped and becomes pregnant its too bad and she has to have a baby with the rapist even if labor would place the childs life in danger. I guess for Cain it was the 13 year old's fault for getting raped and she'll just have to suck it up and have the baby bc she had no business out there getting raped like that. Soon the GOP will be giving rapist the right to sue for parental rights too, I guess.

    October 31, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    April Garlow, have you read much history on the relationships between whites and blacks during slavery? Chances are, Cain and Obama are both black to same degree: the difference is, that Cain's female ancestors most likely had no choice in the matter, or is that what bothers you?

    October 31, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @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.

    The reporter asking the question was from Politico, not exactly a Liberal outfit. You'd know this if you did some research instead of reflexively accusing Liberals of everything you don't like.

    October 31, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. SwilliamP

    I think Clarence Thomas got away with harassment. His hearing was a farce. But every case is different- and these allegations were brought up not by an investigative body as with Thomas but by 'unnamed sources'. This sounds politically motivated...

    October 31, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. idecomp

    If falsely accused, then he should be yelling at the top of his lungs for the accusers to come forward and provide evidence, or charge them legally or sue for interfering with an election, defamation of character and who knows what else. I'm tired of the corrupt officials here in the U.S.

    If it comes out as fact then the people will be able to make a timely decision on another candidate; either way, "We the People" finally come out on the good end.

    October 31, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. SCOTO

    This is all a sideshow anyway. Herman Cain is no more going to be the presidential nominee than is Osama Bin Laden (and he is dead) .

    October 31, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. BBoy705

    Now let's just hold on a minute people! Cain said the God told him to run for the office of the President of the United States of America and, notwithstanding the fact that most of the other GOP candidates got the same message from God, as far as I'm concerned I don't think God would stand behind a man (black or white) who would s exually harass women or men for that matter! Right God? God are you there? God? You wouldn't stand behind a man like that would you God? God?? God?? I guess I'm not presidential material!

    Of course we should all remember that God did get a woman pregnant without her permission and then, even though he is all powerful, he let his son (or himself depending on which sect of the Christian church you belong to) get crucified! So maybe he would back a guy like Herman Cain!

    October 31, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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