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. FIELD1stSGT

    You Cain like Obama just can't tell the truth when it would be simplest thing to do. Is this just a way of life for you people.

    October 31, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. Robert

    What nonsense. These types of allegations are routinely lodged against top CEOs. At least he didn't get a BJ in the White Hosue...LOL!

    October 31, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. ithink122

    New game. Every time Cain changes his story, take a shot.

    October 31, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  4. Claire

    Previously manny coulter has said that race has no impact on society, now she's changing her tune. Maybe cornbread cain pimped manny too.

    October 31, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  5. Bman

    These candidates look good in horse drawn buggies and tall hats. I hope one of them gets elected, we deserve it.

    October 31, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  6. Tough USA

    Mc Cain failed well before these allegations.

    October 31, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  7. Bman

    These candidates lost their marbles.

    October 31, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. shelley

    It would be so refreshing if that when people have these questions put to them ,they would just step up and tell the truth . Tell exactly what happened and how it affected you and those around you and if you learned anything from your mistake. For all of our sakes stop lieing.

    October 31, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. BJJSchecter

    Right. Every hear a politician admit to harassment??

    October 31, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  10. Deephaven

    I was willing to give Cain the benefit of the doubt on this, but I was disappointed with his Press Club address today. He said he did not know if the women involved got a financial settlement on this (they did – a five figure one). How could it be possible he did not know this? Considering the seriousness of these situations, it's definitely something he should have known. It can only be concluded that he was lying.

    October 31, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. GOHerm

    Heads up, Herman, they're coming after you with what little they've got 'cause they be scared! ! We'll see you in the White House in 2012 because you are the best president for America!

    October 31, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. Jackblob

    Cain is contradictions himself on the matter and it's hurting his image. He needs to speak clearly and openly. Assuming these women were paid off, Cain surely knew about it, should say he knew about it, and say what actually happened. The truth will come out one way or the other.

    October 31, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. victoria_29

    For the RECORD these did NOT just now come out, during his previous failed attempts at getting elected to various offices it has been mentioned also. So, no to many of us this is NOT new, only it seems to Cain blind supporters. I find it funny that Cain is always misunderstood, misinterpreted, mis-spoke, etc. It is always something with him. Aquila-which his supporters say oh that was nothing God how many passes are you silly people going to give Cain. Maybe you should be slightly curious what happened to the blonde...if you're even aware enough to know what is going on with your candidate. You people & the race card, sorry that card has been maxxed out long ago by Obama supporters-it no longer works for him & will not work for Cain-all it does is tick most of us off that some people want to blame race for everything.

    October 31, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. Good Riddance

    As more often than not happens with holier than thou right wingers, or tea partiers, the more they try to appear like moralist saints, the more vulgar they turn out to be and more often than not, like Clarence Thomas, have skeletons in the closet all the while appearing superior than all the rest of us. I bet that what's come out is just the tip of the iceberg about this guy. But somehow I am not surprised if this is going to increase his support among republican tea partiers.

    October 31, 2011 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @rand: "Reverend Jeremiah Wright..................Obama's RACIST preacher never got this much PRESS and SCRUTINY.............HHHMMMM.wonder WHY............. main stream media?????"

    Are you KIDDING me? Do an Internet search on "Jeremiah Wright" and you'll see articles from 2008 on the Web sites for ABC, PBS, Fox, NY Daily News, the Daily Press, plus links to YouTube videos – and that's just on the first page of about 3,530,000 hits!

    Go peddle your nonsense someplace else!

    October 31, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  16. who

    1 strik your out. sorry but the bankers dont think you will rule.

    October 31, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Left wing media strikes again. Sadly predictable, and a shame that these on-line National Enquirer wannabes can dupe so many people.

    October 31, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. Jean

    I can't believe how quickly Politico Magazine searched for mud to sling at Cain.
    Cain has not critized his opponents; he tells us what he wants to do for our Country,
    That is what people, like me, want in a president. It is too bad that the media trys so hard to ruin a person's reputation!!
    What has happened in our Country that you just ruin reputations of people and not even feel you have done anything wrong. What has happened to ETHICS?

    The media

    October 31, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  19. Wired

    Based completely on the Republican's behavior during Clinton, Republicans should never be allowed to be president if they have had an affair(Cain, Newt.)

    October 31, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  20. mjw

    This guy is such a liar!!!! A liar never has the same story to tell. Mr. Cain has just proved how untrustworthy he is. He is baaaad news!

    October 31, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  21. scott

    I'm not a supporter of Cain but this will make Cain more popular than ever, especially when they find out that Romney was behind this non story. Isn't it obvious that the very same day Cain passes Romney in popularity that this non story comes out all over the Romney loving media? Romney is finished.

    October 31, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  22. JimAR

    The only thing this guy had going for him was his integrity. He wasn't smart, well-spoken, experienced, politically astute. But, he seemed honest. Now, it is clear that the NRA had to pay only small amounts of hush money to the women he harassed. The party's over, Herman. Go back home now.

    October 31, 2011 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  23. M.K.

    Someone will make him an offer he cannot refuse. This guy's bread is definitely done. If he wakes up with a horses head in his bed, he had better run for the border instead. Hey, I'm a poet and dont know it, but my feet show it, they're long fellows.

    October 31, 2011 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  24. Kelly

    Who cares? Anybody can accuse anyone of anything. Unless there was a crime committed for which one was charged and convicted – it is no consequence whatsoever. Herman Cain is a refreshing change and I hope he does well.

    October 31, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. Indy

    If you dont know the difference between "settlement" and "agreement" you cannot be President of the United States of America

    October 31, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
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