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. vintage274

    The problem is not the accusation or the situation...The problem is that Cain is fudging about it. Doesn't recall? Just coming back to him? Puh–leeze. These candidates are vetted. This mens their entire histories are searched for any potential problems to the campaign. His advisors have served hi poorly in not having him just answer the question honestly in the first place.

    November 1, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. dman

    I defended this guy yesterday because the facts were sketchy, if not non-existent. However, the more he talks, the worse it gets. "I don't remember these incidents, except for maybe the incident I do remember. We didn't pay anybody any settlement money, except when we did". And who's going to believe that someone wouldn't remember incidents where they got accused. rightly or wrongly, with something like this. I also like the response on this site from the typical conservative morons who blame everything on the "liberals", without doing a shred of research to see if it is true. The President and CEO of POLITICO is Frederick J. Ryan Jr., former Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. I highly doubt that he is in charge of a liberal company.

    November 1, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Greg

    As long as he keeps talking, he's going to keep looking like an idiot.

    November 1, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Herb going up in smoke like a bad commercial
    More like cheap, impotent weed :)!

    November 1, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. rizzo

    Actually, we leftists(I'm a communist, personally) tend to like most people and tend to not throw insults around all over the place. I, personally, like Christians, even if there aren't many of them around these days.

    November 1, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Cuttingedge

    The truth shall set you free...

    November 1, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. lucy2

    Is it a "smear campaign" if what was reported is fact? He was accused, and a settlement was reached. Those are facts. If they were reporting that he was guilty of it, that would be a different story,. Welcome to 21st century politics, Mr. Cain. You might want to see which of your GOP rivals prompted this whole thing coming to light, because I'd be willing to bet that's who it was.

    On a side could you not remember something like that? If someone accused me of such things, I'd remember every detail.

    November 1, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. winstonsmith

    amoral and immoral or two different things (just thought I'd mention that for all the religious nuts out there who want everyone to live exactly as they do and believe exactly what they believe...)

    November 1, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |

    Another Anthony Weiner drama in the making.

    November 1, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Democrat Party - leftist "progressive" socialist communist losers hellbent on destroying the USA

    This blog is so biased in its"moderation" it is ridiclous. Almost total censorship, unless of course if you're pro-Obama and a tool of the left.

    November 1, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. 999

    Hay Herman,

    this is what it feel like to be a black man accused of something you may or may not have done in America. Welcome to the club.

    November 1, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. boocat

    You reap what you sow. This moron should take his own advice.....SUCK IT UP! LMFAO!!!!

    November 1, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Jazzy

    ALERT !!! I have no source to provide, because they choose to remain anonymous. I have been told that Barack Obama molested both his daughters on numerous equations. There ya go. Take off with this non-story liberal media.

    November 1, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Jerry

    Herman Cain is a good man and so far, it looks as though he is the man that will get my vote. It is sad that in this country, people are allowed to smear people, make false accusations then get away with it. Where are these woman? I'll tell you where.... somewhere else looking for an innocent victim to make money from Do you want a good, honest man in the Whitehouse? Herman will be there..... mark my words.

    November 1, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    Tell me again which party he belongs to so I can determine whether or not the allegations are true.

    November 1, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Joe

    This story shows how FAST Cain can FLIP-N-FLOP...already 10x in the last 24hrs....GO CAIN GO!!! FLIP OUT OF THE RACE ALREADY!!!!

    November 1, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    Just ~ just when ya think you have seen it all.................
    GOP ~ the party that keeps on giving.

    November 1, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. 21k

    did he play "Time" by the Isley Brothers in the background?

    November 1, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. Big_D

    Who cares if he is a letch? He doesn't have a radical preacher that did things before he was born. Nope he has a radical preacher that did things during his life and he is a letch. The press will not cover a story on a Republican because FOX doesn't have a team to create fake dirt on Republicans.

    November 1, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. greg

    Interesting that CNN decides to cover this garbage excuse to eliminate a candidate and not cover the 4 RAPES in the occupy movement.

    November 1, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. PJ

    The ROMNEY camp is behind this!!

    November 1, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Nanci

    Hello Everyone,
    I am new here, I must say all this blame on each other is funny.. I think this story outing Mr. Cain has Carl Rove written all over it.

    November 1, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. Larry L

    Maybe he was just "joking"... I hope the women involved come out and tell us the real story. This is important because were strongly questioning the character of a man who could be President of the United States. You'd better believe the right-wing would dearly love to dish up something like this if Presaident Obama had been charged. They don't even need a grain of truth to start the old "swift boat" tactics.

    November 1, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. jdog

    It is amazing how some can turn this into a RACE issue – he wanted his poker in a place it should not be and was called on it – his backers paid the two off and he got away with it – and end of story – now it is because the democrats are racists or it is a lynching – man just because someone else got away with it (shame on us) or he is black does not take away form the fact he is a person without morals – i don't care if his wife (like other stupid women have done in the past for the good of the household politics) stands by him – he is a pig – no matter the color or party affiliation!!!!!

    November 1, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. RG

    The problem wasn't the settlement but the fact that he lied or um changed his story they say (he lied).

    November 1, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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