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. TangledThorns

    This woman only cares about money and makes other who experience sexual harassment lives even more difficult. She got paid for supposed harassment and now wants more money and attention since Cain has become a national star.

    November 2, 2011 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  2. Richard Brown

    I have greatly enjoyed Cain's rise in the Republican Party, but this is his undoing. He needed to be straight-up on this, and unfortunately for him, he was not. He does not have the benefit of a politician's career where this untimely event can be attributed to malice as opposed to the fact that the skeleton is just now coming out of the closet due to increased public scrutiny.

    November 2, 2011 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  3. Francis

    Another one bites the dust...

    November 2, 2011 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  4. jimbo

    Let's see if the the NRA (National Restaurant Association) goes ahead and waives the confidentiality agreement. If they do, it may mean the end of Herman Cain's bid.

    November 2, 2011 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  5. NoGr8rH8r

    He's finished before he's even started! The last thing people want to hear about is Herman Cain's sexual harassment accusations.......and you know they won't stop.
    BTW- What was 9-0-9 and 9-9-9 about again?
    That didn't take long.

    November 2, 2011 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  6. Expat

    Remember "I never had sexual relations with that woman!"?. He seems made for the White House already. Cain for President!

    November 2, 2011 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  7. SKS

    So, let me get this right, this happened back in the 90's? And they are filing a claim/complaint now. Why because he is in the spot light? What a bunch of trick!!!! So they want thier moment in the light.

    November 2, 2011 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  8. GaryB

    Hey, give Herman Cain a break. Can you recall the exact details of every time you were accused of sexual harrassment? I mean, after a few times, I'm sure it all blends togetther...

    November 2, 2011 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  9. guest

    women in USA must stop this; if a man makes advances towards you and you dont like it, tell it to him straight without mincing words, irrespective of his position of authority. Men are naturally wired to seek women, we are intelligent beings, it is upto the women to either accept or reject the advances, but not to use a natural process to take advantage of men and destroy their careers. Why is this woman coming out with this information now? is it because Cain is gaining in the polls?

    November 2, 2011 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  10. Harry From Pa

    When it comes down to it, a lie is a lie is a lie. You are running for President, don't you think this stuff would have come up eventually. Is your Ego that big that you can't see past anything? Smear campaign right...... First Cain says that people have themselves to blame if they are poor or stupid...... well remember that old saying be careful at who you point fingers at, you got 3 pointing back at you. And Now look at Cain he is using racism as a crutch because he know he messed up, they want everyone to feel bad for him, but he is the one accused he put himself in those situations.

    November 2, 2011 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  11. grandma

    His facial expression shows when he's lying. Mouth, lips, teeth, tongue all go try as a powder puff. Eyes go a blinking trying to get those lies together. The dude have me cracking up, Those Reps are giving us a free movie show. It's better than my soap operas.

    November 2, 2011 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  12. Mac

    Which one of all you guys have NEVER EVER said something inappropriate to a girl/woman at a booze party??. We guys are just as guilty as Cain. We have all done it. Its the nature of the beast so all of you get off your high horses.

    November 2, 2011 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  13. Sparty Rulez

    Cain will never see the White House..!

    November 2, 2011 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  14. muggsy3

    "gesturing to a woman that she was the same height as his wife –about 5 feet tall – and came up to his chin"
    huh? since WHEN is thissexual harrassment?
    As far as I'm concerned the left and ultra-conservative right are worried that Mr. Cain's stance on most issues esp. the economy, is getting too much accceptance from John Q Public, so the dirt digging begins. I am DISGUSTED that slander, innuendo, twisted "facts" is such standard fare in politics. As far as I'm concerned, the muck rakers and their backers should be disqualified from the race, barred from future campaigns for office,

    November 2, 2011 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  15. Cleo797

    BETCHA this is a true story. GOTCHA Herman Cain! Besides that, it is all over your forehead, Senator.

    November 2, 2011 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  16. FedUpwithLA

    Yeah, it's all about sexual harassment, isn't it? The career-killer for which no one has an answer to. It doesn't matter whether one has "sexually harassed" or not, it's the accusation that counts, and the damage done, and the brushing up and image reparation that counts afterwards. Good thing there are smaller countries with less ties to egos that are still able to perpetuate the human race, if that is a good thing.

    November 2, 2011 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  17. FedUpwithLA

    It's all about sexual harassment, isn't it? Good for you, Mr Cain! Now you got everyone's attention. If he would have cut off his willy a long time ago, then these allegations would never have surfaced. Let that b a lesson for us all!

    November 2, 2011 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  18. Debulator

    First I want to know if this is the same woman who thinks a "chin" is a sex organ? Puhleese!!! Second, it is so easy for this woman to lob accusations around while hiding behind a coinfidentiality agreement. How brave and honorable of her. Finally, I know the news media is pretty much worthless anymore but if there is any reporter out there who does more than just shill for the liberal cause, do some digging and find out who leaked the story. That's what I REALLY want to know.

    November 2, 2011 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  19. cosmicsnoop

    Complete liar. Just listen to his own words. They constantly change. He HAD to have signed the settlement, that's how it works. He is also bound by confidentiality, which he is breaking by denying what he did so these woman should do the same, come forward and put a fork in this guy, he's done.

    November 2, 2011 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  20. Nobody's Perfect But Still We Look

    OMG! Herman Cain likes women and said something out of the way to possibly two of them 20yrs ago. Oh, the horror! This means he cant do anything right. Sexual harassment is nothing to condone or go around doing, but geez with all thats wrong with the country, running a man into the ground over something 20yrs ago is freakin sad. Our priorities are screwed up.

    November 2, 2011 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  21. Grumpster

    As someone with a masters degree in HR,I can tell you that there would not have been a settlement without Cain knowing about it, and knowing that there were charges. Weather legit or not, a settlement could have been made to quiet the situation since proof is hard to come by, and most times your seen as guilty until proven innocent. To have it happen twice, it's highly unlikely that there was not something happening. Cain is either a complete idiot, or complete liar.

    November 2, 2011 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  22. Jeremiah

    You know what Herman it IS a smear campaign. And thank you for providing so much SMEAR. We didn't even have to buy any of our own.

    November 2, 2011 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  23. Hoofleau

    If the allegations are true, then the NRA should get a reimbursement on their settlement. A deal is a deal. You don't squeal after a deal. These women are opportunists, that's all. Women cry wolf all the time in the work place. It's a fact.

    November 2, 2011 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  24. Tim Scott

    For someone who wants to be president, he 1) sure didn't know what was going on in his organization, 2) can't remember anything.... the GOP candidates are dumber than the other.

    November 2, 2011 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  25. RP supporter

    Do people honestly believe Cain isn't prone to corruption?
    That just isn't the case, at least in my opinion.
    Also, if this woman isn't lying then Herman Cain just got exposed as the liar he truly is.

    November 2, 2011 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
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