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. chuckly

    to the idiots out there claiming 'he wasn't convicted so I don't care'
    Of course he wasn't convicted. It's hard to convict someone when they pay off the accusers and make they sign statements claiming to never talk about it. Then they come out now and claim they are liars but of course they are not allowed to talk about it to defend themselves.

    November 1, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. NoTags

    The GOP/tea baggers want Perry to be the nominee so bad they are willing to throw their grandmother under the bus.

    November 1, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Ferret out the B.S.

    Wow Herman, think about this, if you're the president the questions come faster and demand accuracy. If you can't handle this, how do you think you could handle responses being the leader of the free world. You fail, you're not even qualified for dog catcher. Get back in line with the rest of the GOP clowns. Jeeze I can't believe the garbage that thinks they're qualified to be President, you're just wasting our time.

    November 1, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. SPQR

    To all of the people saying that it is not a big deal and that it was 12 years ago.

    1st. Not if that happend to you, your wife or your daughter.

    2nd. Before you decide you like a candidate, don't you want to know everthing about him/her first ?

    3rd. Now he lied.

    4th. Nein ! Nein ! Nein !

    November 1, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. modinde

    30 years ago, and thats all they can make up?? Give me a break. Clinton lied in a Congressional hearing about "not" having s ex, and we all know he lied. Yet, dems still call in Clinton to fix issues obama can't......Bill not Hillary that is

    November 1, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. United We Stood

    @ Nicole: U mad bro? Go get a hug, stat.

    November 1, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Lean6

    Let the lynching begin. Cain is an idiot if he didn't see this coming knowing that he had such a skeleton in his closet. I'm of the full belief that the best and most qualified people would never put their name on a presidential ballot unless they had the amorphous illuminati saying it shall be so...reason being – because people have histories.

    November 1, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Pfwag

    Democrats know how to treat an uppity black man who left their plantation. The KKK roots run deep and wide in the Democratic Party.

    November 1, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. montanas for cain

    Left smear job you must really fear him! At least we know he was born in the country and worked hard for everything he has!! Unlike the current leadership who got it all give to them by the gov't. Cain will be the 1st true black american elected to president not mix oh wait that is right you all keep forgetting Obama,s mom is white oh yea he never remembers that either big suprize

    November 1, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. thatldoelephant

    The problem isn't that he was accused. The problem is he says things like "I wasn't given the opportunity to think about it for the day before starting to answer questions." Even though we see in the article a little further down: Martin said POLITICO gave Cain's campaign 10 days to respond to the allegations.
    10 days isn't enough time? How much time does he need to remember the word "settlement"? All he had to do was come clean at the beginning so he didn't look like he was hiding something.

    November 1, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Donkey Party

    Don't blame "time", Herb, blame yo'self!!!

    November 1, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. cf

    This is becoming the typical Republican response. "I blame everybody else for what I did except myself." He must have studied under Sarah Palin.

    November 1, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. MCJNY

    it's not a smear campaign if it part of the official record that a settlement was reached with these 2 women. The fact is companies do not give people hugh money unless they have something on them to be hushed about. This is also part of the vetting process to be become president. All of your private, past and current life stories come into the public eye. This process is one of the big reasons why we don't get more people as candidates. Most of us wouldn't be able to pass the vetting process. If cain can't at least get past the points that obama has faced, how can he be an upgrade?

    November 1, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. John Heard

    What would Clinton do?

    November 1, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. steven harnack

    I can remember the times that I was falsely accused of things in grade school, let alone things that required attoneys. Does he have early onset Alzheimers or other mental problems?

    November 1, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. montanas for cain

    Left smear job you must really fear him! At least we know he was born in the country and worked hard for everything he has!! Unlike the current leadership who got it all give to them by the gov't. Cain will be the 1st true black american elected to president not mix oh wait that is right you all keep forgetting Obama,s mom is white oh yea he never remembers that either big suprized

    November 1, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. abby

    smear campaign? ha, ha! I love all the changes... what is his next version? pathetic....

    November 1, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Waiting for a candidate

    Surprise, yet another politico failing to take responsibility for his own poor behavior. This allegation coupled with the fact that he cares little about women's health removes him from my list of potentials. So far there are NONE.

    November 1, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Border Collie lover

    Cain is a smear. He's the biggest joke I've ever seen come across the GOP. There is no way in hell he will make it as a nominee against Obama. The nut case has no previous political experience and he ran Godfather's pizza bankrupt. He'll for sure run the USA more bankrupt than we already are. Face it Cain, YOU ARE A LOSER!!!

    November 1, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. Arun

    Again, this party (REPUBES), thinks what they do is ok. If anyone else does it, they slam them. Please see Gingric, Newt, on how he attacked Clinton for the same thing he was doing at the time.

    November 1, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Anonymous:

    So you say. lets see, barry had plenty of skeletons! Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dorn and a record of voting " present " over 350 times in the Illinois Senate. Those look like A LOT of skeletons to me!
    Oh puleeeze! Stay on topic.
    We're talking about things done in secrecy, in the dark, away from prying eyes, ashamed to let others know about it. Those types of skeletons.
    Obama's voting as a Senator is a matter of PUBLIC record. Attending Wright's church was done in BROAD daylight. Bill Ayers/Dorn what of it? Did he meet with them in secret? Did he blow up something?
    Thanks for playing moron.

    November 1, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Paul1st

    And when Cain is President and that call comes at 3AM, he will say, "wait, I need some time to gather my thoughts!" Immediately afterward, early morning pedestrians will be treated to the sweet refrain of gospel music wafting from the Rose Garden. Now, that would be the kind of campaign add Cain should find "humorous".

    November 1, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Tree

    No one done this accept his running mates. The left have no reason to do this . Just think about it.

    November 1, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. FedUp

    Mr. Cain came out and told the story. Bill Clinton did not. Bill Clinton stood there and lied. Mr. Cain, you have my vote.This decided it. Bring my primary ballot today! I don't care whether this came from the Democrats or Republicans. It is dirty politics. Oh wait, that's what politics is expected to be.

    November 1, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. Bob

    Talk bad about Cain and your a racist.... See how the liberals like it now..

    November 1, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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