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. hicham

    i have feeling long time that this guy is very fishy....and not surprise about this allegation at all.
    of course , the settlement is no brainer to be done by third party..other than him personally .

    October 31, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. gutsycall

    Well, they don't pay you off for nothing. He obviously got caught with his zipper ready to go. Well, the staff didn't want to get the staff.

    October 31, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Warren

    I hope this doesn’t sound socially primitive, but just as I require more sunscreen protection when recreating on the beach, or that I require more whisky to cop a buzz than some peoples, could it be possible, even scientifically verifiable, that certain peoples have enhanced libidos that simply require more accommodation than that others?

    October 31, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Bayousara

    Herman Cain doesn't believe a woman can get an abortion even if her life is in danger. He didn't feel that way a few months ago. It is all about politics. As a woman, I want him and all males to keep their friggin' mouths shut about what we women do with our bodies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. gutsycall

    I wonder if that's what he offered the victims – 9, 9, 9. Instead they said 5 figures. Well, the same thing is about to happen to him – America wants the real beef and not his.

    October 31, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Cain should "BLAME HIS SELF" for the harassment charges...!!!

    October 31, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. Bear

    Shame on the news media! My family wants true journalism back!....This is just made up by the media!

    October 31, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. CanadaOne

    take a look at his hands – OH YAH! – he has being fooling around and he has eaten more than just pizza!

    October 31, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. chuckly

    He does not have a right to face his accusers if he settled with them out of court. These women got 5 or 6 figure settlements to keep their mouths shut. That should tell you something. If he didn't do anything, why didn't they let it go to court?

    October 31, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Bill

    The fix is in. Cain is guilty being a nobody that got the attention of a lot of folks. The political machinery does not want him.
    They want Perry as President or V.P. Re minds me of Kennedy and Johnson. This time will be Romney and Perry.

    October 31, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. Concerned

    Mark B. I agree with you, but to chide you only a little bit: They'll never learn better if you keep insulting them. Instead they'll internalize your derision as a reason to never see things as they truly are and thus the problem self-perpetuates... (but you are correct)

    October 31, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. shedrick cain jr

    Mr cain needs to come forth and clear up the alligations made against him,I also believe the accusers need to come forth as well.

    October 31, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. Peter

    Hang in there Herman. I'm an agnostic, but I'm praying anyway that you get through this and your name appears the November 6, 2012 ballot alongside that of my candidate, Barack Obama.

    October 31, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Lisa

    DamianX, you must have a short memory...her name was Paula Jones.

    October 31, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. bookgirl

    Ha! Time for him to slink back under the rock from whence he came.

    October 31, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. navymom

    Noticed that most postings by men here, don't care about Cain's alleged harassment. If not true, there would've been no signed non-disclosure agreements and payoffs. Cain - another lying politician

    October 31, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Ryan

    Vote for a man with integrity – Ron Paul.

    October 31, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. JIlly

    This is the organization whose slogan used to be "Eating Out is Fun" – not an innuendo-free zone, apparently!

    October 31, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. chuckly

    ok, here's a way to clear it up. Tell him to let the accusers talk about it. Since they had to sign off on not talking about it in the settlement to shut them up. Will he now let them speak up so he can 'face' his accusers. I doubt it. He will make them stick to the agreement, all the while accusing them of being liars.

    October 31, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. RJ

    Cain LOVES!!!!!!!! that Yellow tieeeee!!!!!!!1

    October 31, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. LLL

    Karl Rove must be one happy camper today!! Cain is an arch-enemy and Karl will do ANYTHING to bring him down. Oh how I love to watch the Repugs eat each other!

    October 31, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Gemini Girl

    Sorry, FIELD1stSGT,
    Obama has NEVER been anywhere associated with scandal like that! Where do you get your info from? FAUX NEWS again!! And by the way, Pres. Obama is both a Patriot and a man of God, so I guess he is the one u want to be president, correct? No way any of the Repub would qualify in that regard! Have a nice day! LOL

    October 31, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. DumbasRocks [R]s

    "Good luck getting any one to care what any of these Republican candidates have done in their past."

    Well, certainly a hypocrtical rightwing shrew won't care what any of the [R]s have done in their past. And in any case, why would those kinds of facts suddenly matter to a dimwitted [R] apologist, when facts and reasoning in general have no place at all in a [R]'s worldview? You neo-toads crack me up. Thank god you are stupid enough to actually use your free-speech rights.

    October 31, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. scranton

    He will be a shoo-in for two terms given that the allegations hold up just like Bill Clinton it should help him.

    October 31, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. Jim Crosby

    This guy gets the gong show hook, bring on the next "winner" GOP/T-baggers

    October 31, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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