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. whoopitydo2

    This is unbelievable! So, let me get this's okay for a Democrat (Clinton) to have all the "fun" he wants, with a girl his daughter's age, while married and on duty and you liberals made excuses, but here we have a black man that is falsely accused in an extortion attempt and it's the end for Cain. Your racism is now fully exposed Democrats!

    November 1, 2011 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  2. EastCoastMike

    Hear that noise that sounds like a boulder falling off a cliff in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon? That's Cain's presidential campaign...

    November 1, 2011 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  3. MaryM

    You know if someone is "paid off" . Which means paid to keep their mouth shut. Then there is something very wrong .

    November 1, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  4. EddyL

    This guy is nuts. He gives a press conference and then sings? What is he? A reality show?

    November 1, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  5. Omega

    Just another attempt to smear a minority conservative. Pretty much the same thing the Washington post is trying to do to Rubio. Liberals fear conservative minorities the most because they are a serious threat to take what the liberals once considered their safe votes. Unfortunately for the liberals, minority communities are beginning to realize that a half-century of liberal social programs have not helped those communities but, in fact, have hurt them.

    November 1, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  6. Naco

    Clarence Thomas was guilty. Anita Hill is still looking for an apology. Clarence Thomas is the most corrupt (illegal earning of his wife) in the Supreme Court and "illegal and Supreme Court" should not even be allowed in the same sentence. Not saying Cain is guilty, but don't absolve or hang him before it is investigated

    November 1, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  7. Hornacek

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

    Are you kidding? For weeks all we heard about from every news channel was Reverend Wright this and Reverend Wright that. Were you asleep during the last campaign?

    November 1, 2011 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  8. Maine LIberal

    "he has a right to face his accusers" not when he settles out of court

    November 1, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  9. Davidk

    If he was innocent then there wouldn't have been a settlement and cover up.

    November 1, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  10. Maine LIberal

    "he has a right to face his accusers" he did its called a settlement

    November 1, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  11. Rick

    This is all a matter of record. It's tempest in a teapot, IMHO. I think It's called firing a dart or was that a firey dart?Not a lethal shot but one that stings. Keep up the good work. I am sure you will turn it into a freak show if things start going right.

    November 1, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  12. Me3

    Another right wing holier-than-thou Christian who turns out to be a closet creep. How many of these idiots need to go down in flames before thei supporters of this BS figure it out?

    November 1, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  13. Wo0F

    There are 999 reasons not to vote for cain.

    November 1, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  14. Mindie in Indie

    wait....first he says he knows NOTHING about this...then is forced to admit he does know something about this, then is forced to admit he knows everything about this..then is forced to admit...... wow- GOP Family values keeps getting caught with their pants down.

    November 1, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  15. Mindie in Indie

    just another GOP liar.... God I'd so tired of these Christian Conservatives conveniently forgetting,...then remembering...their bad behavior. This should be a lesson – if there is ANYTHING questionable about a candidates past – it will be brought to light

    November 1, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. Mindie in Indie

    @rand – Reverend Jeremiah Wright..................Obama's RACIST preacher never got this much PRESS and SCRUTINY.............HHHMMMM.wonder WHY............. main stream media?????
    Oh that's pick and CHOOSE your TARGETS................

    are you kidding? Where were you? You people screamed about Rev. Wright for months – even now, it still comes up....

    November 1, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  17. Joe Shmoe

    This is not like the Clarence Thomas case. These women made these allegations 10 years ago. They were given settlements (which Cain intially lied about) 10 years ago. It's not like they just came out of the woodwork since he started his presidential run.

    And while all the Cainiacs blame the "liberal media", it was most likely Romney or Perry's camp that dug this up.

    I'm frankly more concerned with him being a Fed insider, his support for the TARP bailouts, and his desire to increase taxes for most Americans. These are real issues.

    November 1, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. Justin

    Hey at least we don't have to be drugged on "family values" again. So long Herman Munster.

    November 1, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  19. chumbkt

    The left wing outrage at Cain is funny.

    Never heard any of that about Clinton.

    November 1, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. Dave

    I would love to think an Obama/Cain matchup in 2012 would be a beautiful thing for the country, but the Cain rise is so darned contrived. There's one REAL reason he was chosen – it wasn't just his "ideas" or that messed up tax plan of his. You know the GOP has been bought when businessmen are replacing veterans of war and men with ACTUAL experience in Government. Herman Cain had the scariest Halloween of his life, and the 'creepy' is just starting to emerge.....

    November 1, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  21. 21k

    he should get some advice from newtie-boy, sounds like they are cut from the same cloth. is the religious singing thing really enough for some voters? are they that dim?

    November 1, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. Ted

    Isn't it strange that President Zero escapes the wrath of CNN every day, yet they still manage to find garbage with the GOP candidates. FOX is no different. All it is political spin and now it will be the Republicans turn. I can't wait to see which Liberal will get skewered next.

    November 1, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  23. GI Joe

    Wait 'til all the details come out about his financial illegalities during his "book sale tour".

    November 1, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  24. GI Joe

    I have a thought - Rove and the Koch brothers differ - maybe Rove did his homework and decided to smear the Koch brothers "boy".

    November 1, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. United We Stood


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

    Oh that's pick and CHOOSE your TARGETS................
    Wow, someone should have stayed in school. Let me break this down for you. Wright was already a big topic during the run-up to the election, if he wasn't you wouldn't know a damn thing about him or are you an expert in African American churches? This is about Cain, and his attempts to be Casanova which was outed by POLITICO reporters, not the women, and certainly NOT the "liberal media". Do yourself a favor and get educated on the facts instead of right wing talking points, Randy or Randall or shall I call you Ayn.

    November 1, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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