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. Roger

    He was caught ordering the wrong Pie!

    November 1, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Michael

    Comon, lets have a dose of common sense here. You CANNOT convince me that he was not in the loop when the events occured; at the very LEAST, his lawyers had a sit-down with him at the time and explained the situation and fallout. Hes trying to cover it up and just making it worse. Im not saying I can prove hes actually guilty of the accusations, Im just saying he HAD to know they occured. Its just sleazy the way hes acting about it.

    November 1, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Big_D

    So Cain is immediately a VICTIM for something he did but Obama is liable for what his preacher did before he was born. It makes total sense, to right wingers.

    November 1, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Ken

    Republicans have such low moral standards that this will not matter. Cain is lying and veryone knows it.

    November 1, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. phearis

    This is a Smear Campaign huh? Welcome to Presidential Politics. Now grow some thicker skin ya baby.

    November 1, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Rich

    Common that AL you remember?Ever read the book Mandingo?Beware of the tea baggers they "want to take the country back"FROM GUESS WHO???I would say THEY outed you not any liberal as they WANT you to run.Run Herm RUN.

    November 1, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. United We Stood

    @ Dominican mama:

    LOL!! Cain is indeed some cheap Herb!!!!!

    November 1, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Roger Brown

    So, lets see....Obama is having the Federal Government buy $70K worth of his books, giving money to lobbists, and the VPOTUS is calling people names and making things up and all CNN can do is cover something without any facts behoiind it?? WOW....and now yu wonder why your losing so many readers and viewers...sad where the newsmedia has gone since 2001

    November 1, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. kinglywarrior

    All those claiming Cain is a victim to "the Leftists", he not the Nominee so no Leftists have any need to say anything about him. This is YOUR OWN party digging up the dirt, enjoy the bed you made.

    November 1, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I don't support Cain, but if that's really all he did–compare her height to his wife's–then he didn't do anything inappropriate.

    By the way, where did this idea come from that Obama wasn't vetted by the media? I remember non-stop talk before the election about his associations with Ayers and Wright, not to mention the birth certificate stuff. About that birther stuff, you know there's nothing to it, because if there really was, Hillary and/or McCain would have used it against him. Or don't you think they wanted to win?

    November 1, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Seth

    Comical... he's done.

    November 1, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. United We Stood

    Let's stop the fallacy that "liberals" are afraid of Cain. Just like we were afraid of $arah Plain and her non-existent run. Just like we're afraid of Newt and his lustful patriotism, just like we're afraid of old crazy eyes from MN that can't be bothered to check facts, and we're afraod of the the great debater, stimulus using, Bush clone from TX. Not to mention our fear of the flip flop flip FLOP whose best friends are corporations. The GOTP field is nothing to fear whatsoever. It's comical that after 3 years, this is the best line-up they could come up with.
    And some clown from Montana wrote about Cain being the first true black American for President, LOL. When they were handing out common sense, you must've been duped into waiting in the line looking for common dollars. Faux Noise will stunt your mental growth.

    November 1, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Sandy

    BLAME YOURSELF! Remember those words, Cain?

    November 1, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Ethernet

    This is such a stupidly obvious attempt at some no name reporter trying to manufacture controversy to further his own career. "Look at the 'Water Gate' type scandel I unleashed!" Puuulease! No names, no detials, all hersay, or should I say RUMOR! THis is ethical reporting? More likely a liberal reporter trying to do a two step, smear republican and promote himself. I'm actually embarrassed for the reporter.

    November 1, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Donald in CA

    Herman, that lying uncle thomas said the same things you are saying. Hey admitt it, your past of trying to be a old player has caught up with you. BY.

    November 1, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Kiki

    Republicans probably like that he's a harasser/abuser of women since its an integral part of their ethos.

    November 1, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. D

    "Able to gradually recall????"

    Herman Cain might just have what it takes to be a politician after all.....

    November 1, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. billy

    I guess they didn’t properly vet this candidate prior to him entering the race. That is pure incompetence- now he is finished. 🙂

    November 1, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Buster Bloodvessel

    Man, that's so Presidential that it reminds me of Reagan: "I can't remember. Nope, can't recall that either. Who are you anyway?"

    November 1, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. John Heard

    This is front page new? We have a global meltdown going on, a fund run by one of Obama's top fundraiser's goes bankrupt and funds are missing, they they dig up something.that happened years ago, and he was not found guilty of anything. Also, this kind of activity didn't seem to be a problem for a lot of people with JFK and Clinton, and we know for sure that they were womanizers.

    November 1, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I don't care – you just lost my consideration as a contender for POTUS.
    Mr.Cain, this is the NFL of politics – did you think you or your Team could come unprepaired?
    Anything in your life or your families life's is foder for comment, etc.
    Your Team is not professioal – reorganize & review before you go any further down the road with "didn't know" or "can't recall" reponses.
    Your chances decrease everytime you respond as you did this last time.
    Obama is a freshman – you need to up your game or go sit on the bench!!

    November 1, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. John

    What do you think he going to do , come out and say he did It. He didn't pay these woman 5 figure to not to say any thing for nothing. I would expect him more If he did come out and say he did and It was bad judgement at the time. But you don't pay two woman 5 figure not to talk about something he say didn't happen. If It didn't happen than why pay them. I think he toast ,you should put a fork In him he done.

    November 1, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. John

    Republicans smearing one of their own. You gotta' love it!

    They will say and do ANYTHING to win. These people would 'swiftboat' their own mother if it would win an election.

    If you're a Republican, you must be thoroughly disgusted with your dumb and dumber choices in this election...........ha, ha. Can you picture any one of these clowns trying to debate the President?

    November 1, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. glyder

    thanks msm,i already know more about cain in a few months than you would report in nearly three years on your diety obama.

    November 1, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |

    See ya, Herb. You're toast!

    November 1, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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