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. Anthony

    He should have gotten them drunk, got in his car, and driven off a bridge. Liberals find that to be acceptable.

    October 31, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Swiftboat

    We just have to keep repeating the same untruth til it sticks. Payback time!

    October 31, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. vtwin1540

    If this was MLK jr or Jessee Jackson, the Bros would be giving Cain high 5's

    October 31, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. GoFaster58

    By coming out right away and answering these charges instead of the usual wait and then lying shows that he is a man who can make decisions. Supposedly the women were not to talk about this per the settlement and this news comes from a third party. Sounds rather fishy to me.

    October 31, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. j mann

    Have you stopped beating your wife, Mr. Cain?

    October 31, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. The Other Michael in Houston

    I usually do not respond directly to anyone but, PA Girl, really??? Back away from the Rush show and turn off Hannity for second and read (that is if you are capable), President Obama was not vetted???? Ahh that's right the media did not question his so called association with a 70's radical group, the media did not question his so called relationship with a minister who spews hate towards other ethinic groups, the media did not question if he was actually a U.S. Citizen, the media did not question if his graduate credentials were credible, nawwwwwww no of that happened. I guess the media needs to do a better job at vetting people. And as for your statement that the non conservatives are prying into everyone's personal life to control them, oh you mean like a woman getting pregnant and having the choice to give birth or not? Oh no wait, you mean letting people choose of they want to smoke marijuana like people chose to smoke tabacco? Oh you mean allowing people to pratice their religon without being judge or being told where they can build a building to practice their religon? It's people like you that makes the Uinited States the laughing stock of the world. 80 percent of America made sure that people who think like you never step foot in the White House ever again and 80+ percent will see to it again and again. I digress.

    October 31, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Ed

    Welcome to politics Mr Cain. You can say anything and it does not need to be true or based on fact. Let's see, calling a consultation between a doctor, a patient and the patient's family about end of life care a death panel, or how about Obama is not a US citizen or is a Muslim (not that it matters). I mean you are a member of a party that lives by selling people on lies and half-truths: WMD, increasing corporate profits by reducing regulations creates jobs, increasing corporate profits by reducing taxes creates jobs, reducing taxes on the wealthy (top 1%) creates jobs, 9-9-9 tax plan would be good for America. The empirical data does not support one of these claims and yet that is all you hear.

    If you can't stand the heat get out of kitchen.

    October 31, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Anarchist

    Your country and your failed political system and government are the laughing stock of the world. Us Canadians, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, etc. are sitting back and enjoying the slap stick comedy your political parties are engaged in. Seriously, it is absolutely hilarious. I only feel sorry for your elderly population. They worked all their lives paying into your Social Security and Medicare systems and now your government is looking to take that away from the elderly population? Hilarious, absolutely HILARIOUS!!!! The United States of America has turned into a super-doldrum of a nation instead of the super-power it once was.

    October 31, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. Sergio

    Does anyone have any information on what the women looked like? Maybe they were exceptionally attractive and didn’t appreciate the effect they had on normal men. If they make an appearance and they don’t look like babes, keep in in that this happened years ago. I sure hope they weren’t lesbians or even worse, racists because this will confirm this as a hatchet job.
    I’d also remind his critics, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” ~and~ “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

    October 31, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. TypicalPolitician

    Typical Politican, Settles with victems so they can place a Gag Order and claim innocence. If the victems talks, they get sued.

    October 31, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. winstonsmith

    Ironic that the flavor of the month this time is a guy who headed the NRA (no, not THAT NRA). Anyways, who cares... Cain would make a terrible president for reasons other than this – like a 3rd grade understanding of economics and morals. Cain is a politician through and through. And yes, a 5 figure settlement means something was awry, but it's a distraction, and Cain won't win the nomination and won't win the presidency.

    Remember when Trump was the front runner?

    October 31, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. FedUpWithLife

    Herman Cain, I heard that name somewhere, but I can't place it. Anyone?

    October 31, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. Hola

    Cain is a loon, representative of the CIRCUS the far right and Republican Party has become! Romney is the ONLY qualified candidate to be President, and would be the ONLY one to have my vote.

    October 31, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. Justin

    Pizza mans campaign vp is on crack. Everyone in this country thinks 999 is a joke. Get this guy outta here and let Romney be Obama's punching bag... Another guy completely out of touch with the majority of Americans... But thx for The O'Romney care!

    October 31, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. OhBoy

    This black man is NOT presidential material. Move on,

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Phil Newton

    It would be nice if the GOP didn't field candidates that regard the presidential contest as an an audition for a reality show.

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. george

    This man Cain reminds me of a carpetbagger. Does he wear spats?

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Bryce

    Does anyone have any information on what the women looked like? Maybe they were exceptionally attractive and didn’t appreciate the effect they had on normal men. If they make an appearance and they don’t look like babes, keep in in that this happened years ago. I sure hope they weren’t a couple or even worse, racists because this will confirm this as a hatchet job.
    I’d also remind his critics, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” ~and~ “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Ron Beitler

    Good grief.... here comes clarence thomas treatment for a successful black conservative politician.....
    The liberal media did so much to hide John Edwards trysts and if Anthony Wieners last name wasnt wiener I bet that wouldnt have made headlines.... Here we go again. same old tired politics.

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. KRGGUY

    Really does not matter to me, as I would never VOTE for him.

    October 31, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Sanity

    Clinton assaulted Kathleen Willey in the WH in the 90's, so why is the story about Cain an big deal?

    October 31, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Warren

    Did anyone ever consider that he might have been feeling a strong emotional attraction and that all we are talking about here is a man in love with one of the two women and he was just following his heart? I’m sure if he were Italian we would wistfully envy his romanticism and let it go.

    October 31, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. HunterPSU

    Look at the picture above. Is he bragging about the size of his cain?

    October 31, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Cookie67

    Who cares? He has to be a better president that the one we have now who has screwed every American six ways from Sunday...a little harrassment is not a big deal ater that.

    October 31, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Dave from GA

    Not sure. Herman Cain could be another Clarence Thomas or Bill Clinton.

    October 31, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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