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. The Real Tom Paine

    Railroaded by Democrat scam artists, what " widespread voter fraud"? Please give examples. The state of Kansas, for example, had fewer than 14 cases, most of which revolved around absentee ballots. Put that down as an average percapita across the country, and you may find 1000 cases of fraudulent ballots. Voter suppression and attampts by the GOP to hinder registration efforts, on the other hand, could result in hundred of thousands of ballots being thrown out and people being disenfranchised. Your lot are leading the charge in this, because you knwo you can't win if registration is up because it does not favor the GOP. Your side is committing fraud.

    October 31, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. melvis

    Ha, ha, ha... Blame the liberals! In fact most liberals are pulling for Cain to win the primary. That ding-dong doesn't have a chance in the election. The only one who has a chance at pulling an independent vote is Mitt.

    October 31, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Sorry snarks, there is no racism or bigotry to admit to, we just think the guy's nuts.

    October 31, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. bcrunner

    There is a nutty person named Joe that thinks the Obama campaign is behind this... ha! ha! Sounds something Perry would do...

    October 31, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "I'd love to see the media high-tech lynch Ann Coulter."

    Her madame's apple keeps getting in the way of the noose.

    October 31, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Noodle Nose Johnson

    I'm sure Andrew Breitbart will be working overtime to get to the truth of these allegations, right?

    October 31, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. George Busch

    Now the cons are condoning inappropriate behavior because a repug candidate did it. They manage to turn a blind eye on anything their leaders do. That is why Larry Craig could get picked up for picking up men in a bathroom and stay in office his full term, yet they howl at anything a Dem does. Typical, hypocritical behavior from the right.

    October 31, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. jtt

    Did you hear about the Cain jobs plan? It has two basic parts. Blow and hand!

    October 31, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Chaz

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

    "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."

    Care to substantiate that comment? I like how you provide no example of this. It's pretty clear that you're just making this up completely.

    Or, maybe your thinking of 2000, when McCain was smeared by GWB and Karl Rove, who spread rumors in SC that he fathered an illegitamate black child. Sound familiar? Do everyone a favor and take your blinders off.

    PS – I would bet anything that this was a GOP job. Do you think Obama stands to gain anything by tearing down Cain and possibly facing Romney, the only republican with a chance to beat him. Wake up.

    October 31, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. Concerned

    This is truly disconcerting. There are an overwhelming number of posts by people who assume he's guilty or that his ideas aren't exactly what we need... Why are so many of you eating up this 12yr old, stale Bull? Would you like a piece of moldy bread from that long ago, too? Then why are you thronging over these unsubstantiated allegations and treating them like anything other than the 12 yr old mold-ridden garbage that they are? While it has been noted by some posts higher up, the simple truth is that this is the first "real" detractor that has come out about Cain. Until now, there really isn't anything you can pin on him. This is perfectly in line with the Alinsky Tactics so often employed by Liberals (which is why most of us 'accuse' the Liberals of cooking this up – it has their fingerprint of sorts). So for those who don't know what Alinsky Tactics are:

    The 13 Main Alinsky Tactics:
    1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
    2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
    3. Whenever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.
    4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
    5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
    6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
    7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
    8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics, and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
    9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
    10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
    11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter-side.
    12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
    13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

    This is obviously an attempt at incorporating rules 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and of course 13. These are the tactics that have been used extensively by "Progressives" for the last 50 years. This is why we are currently where we are as a country – on the edge of a very bad cliff. These are the mechanics that have allowed "them" to construct Hegelian Dialectic after Hegelian Dialectic for the last 1/2 of a century. We The People have been duped and manipulated for so long that most can't recognize it.

    If you hadn't noticed, Herman Cain hasn't employed most – if any – of those rules of manipulation. Simply stated, he trusts your ability to choose and to vote responsibly. He hasn't gone after any of his opponents – which sets him apart from most candidates we're accustomed to. He has been respectful and reasonable the whole time. THAT is what you should be looking for in a candidate – someone who respects Citizens and their right to vote responsibly. Any other candidate – Republican or Democrat – that partakes in the polarization of ANY topic is someone you should NOT trust and thus should NOT vote for, PERIOD. Polarized viewpoints divide people and demonize both sides simultaneously. Cain has stated his viewpoints and the rational reasons he has them. So far, that is better than ANY candidate I have seen run for a very long time.

    I do expect the Cain campaign to employ some of those Alinsky Tactics because simply stated: Some of them are inherent to all forms of politics and this is a Political Arena.

    Since most people won't have read all of the above, here's a summary for those who can't handle more than 5 sentences at a time::

    The occurrence of these "charges" at this point in the game has one purpose only: To try and keep Cain out of the race. The only reason to keep a level-headed individual out of a race is because he/she keeps the most important Alinsky Tactic from entering the game: #13. It's easy to get polarized votes. It's NOT easy to get votes from rational people – they might think before voting.

    I can't wait for the Cain-Haters to reply to this...

    Good luck Cain – we need more like you.

    (btw, please look up what a Hegelian Dialectic is before bashing anything I've said – you just might learn something)

    October 31, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. noemi

    Omg, its the republicans that did this he's ahead of that mormon romney I'm sure that really upsets him. Let's dig into romneys closet or better yet his walkin closet ppl.look into his wives,kids,mothers,fathers,ect,ect,. Of course he has a lot of mone none he's worked for.How much is he gonna pay to keep his walkin closet closed.look into that life or is he to white to get picked on? You punch of fornicateing morons............

    October 31, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. jl

    so when President Obama was sitting in the congregation listening to a sermon, it was HIS fault what the minister was talking about. But Cain doesn't have to answer a question and gets uppity about it? If there was a payout, there was something amiss.

    October 31, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. JakeF

    Normally, after a confidential settlement such as this, both parties are prohibited from discussing the allegations.

    I wonder if Cain's comments regarding this will be considered a breach of contract? Or... are the plaintiffs now able to discuss the allegations since Cain has in a public forum?

    October 31, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Damian X

    krissmith777 idon't remember anyone accusing Clinton of harrassment.....there's a difference between consenual & molestation you know. Let's assume these claims are false against Cain.............I still don't think he's a good candidate. The 9-9-9 is a stupid idea and will never fly.

    October 31, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Bob

    IIf the condom doesn't fit, you must acquit!

    October 31, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Kala

    Four racist bigots at Politico bring flimsy charges against Cain and refuse to publish the detaiils? That kind of Gonzo journalism with a big red (commie) fist pump is what we have come to expect from JournoList Liberal slobbering press. The only thing wrong here is that Politico is still publishing after this article. The HYPOCRITICAL Press said little about Weiner and believed his lies until the explicit pictures showed up. They kept completely quiet about Johnny Edwards even after he lied to his wife and denied his own child. No one is talking about Jesse Jackson's love child when he comes on the air. They still worship and adore the womanizer and groper in chief Bill Clinton and call him a good President. HYPICRITES and LIARS and RACISTS.

    October 31, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. glyder

    simple sheep.the media will tell you who is qualified.who is smart.and we all wound up with a marxist.a black panther.maybe if eric holder had your white children gunned down you would think again.but no,you would be told to blame the tea party.

    October 31, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Innocent victims dont pay off their accusers with 5 figures sums. Game over pizza-man.

    October 31, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. alex

    Just the beginning many more to come .hey Cain you talk to much time to tone it down BRO!!

    October 31, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Concerned

    Jumping on Chaz's comment just above: The Republican Party is not devoid of Progressives... Their agenda is to control the country. You can only do that if you infiltrate both parties and get your people into decision-making positions. Then you can fabricate whatever kind of fake-race you'd like... You can't just vote Democrat or just vote Republican any more – you gotta look for the outsiders and Cain is definitely a bit of an outsider to the Republican Party. If for no other reason than that, I trust him more than any other candidate – Democrat or Republican.

    October 31, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. nathan

    Innocent victims dont pay off their accusers with 5 figure settlements. Game over pizza man.

    October 31, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. davey

    Obots are so deathly afraid of Cain's nomination because their phoney racist cries will be lost. If Soetoro were to face Cain we at least have one candidate who grew up truely having the experience of being a black man.

    October 31, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "This is obviously an attempt at incorporating rules 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and of course 13."

    Actually, it's none of that. What it really is, is a big fat on-purpose shiny distraction from his campaign breaking all sorts of election laws and campaign finance laws to get itself off the ground.

    "...a not-for-profit run by Cain campaign manager Mark Block was paying for Cain’s campaign expenses earlier this year after Cain had already set up his official presidential campaign committee..."

    October 31, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. joe the plumber

    His claims are as clear as Obama's birth certificate "issue". Take that how you will.

    October 31, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. Matt

    Navymom is 100% wrong. It may not be the attorney recommending the settlement, but settlements without guilt happen EVERY DAY in the corporate world. Bottom line is, settling out of court is often cheaper than fighting.

    The McDonald's coffee case, the tire tread separation cases (every tire company got sued on that one) and thousands of medical liability suits have been settled out of court, guilty or not.

    October 31, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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