(Photo: REUTERS / Brendan McDermid)
A new sexual harassment charge against presidential candidate Herman Cain was announced at a New York City press conference on Monday. This marks the fourth accusation over the past week, but the first time the accuser stepped into the spotlight. The Cain campaign said the accusations are “bogus.”
Gloria Allred, a famous lawyer who has worked on many high-profile sexual harassment and sexual discrimination cases, represented the accused.
Sharon Bialek was employed at the Chicago office of the National Restaurant Association while Cain was head of that organization. She claimed Cain sexually harassed her after she was fired by the NRA and traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask Cain for assistance in finding new employment.
“Instead of receiving the help she had hoped for, Mr. Cain instead decided to provide her with his idea of a 'stimulus package,'” Allred said.
After she was fired from the NRA, Bialek claims, she called Cain to ask if they could meet when she traveled to Washington in mid-July of 1997. After her arrival she was surprised to find that Cain had upgraded her hotel room to a suite. He then took her to an Italian restaurant for dinner. After dinner, Cain took Bialek to the NRA offices. But instead of going into the offices, as Bialek said she expected, Cain groped her.
Cain “suddenly reached over and put his hand on my leg, under my skirt, and reached for my genitals,” Bialek said. “He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said, 'what are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for.' Mr. Cain said, 'you want a job, right?' I asked him to stop, and he did. I asked him to take me back to my hotel, which he did, right away.”
Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that if the allegations are true, Cain is not only guilty of sexual harassment, but assault as well.
Bialek, a Republican, described Cain's speech at the 1997 convention where they first met as “incredibly inspirational” and had asked him, “when are you running for president?”
She said that she met Cain again about a month ago at a Tea Party Convention. She asked him if he remembered her. Cain said he did, but “looked very uncomfortable.”
“Now, I'm coming forward to give a face and a voice to those women who cannot, or, for whatever reasons, do not wish to come forward, and on behalf of all women who are sexually harassed in the workplace, but do not come, out of fear of retaliation or public humiliation,” Bialek added.
“I really didn't want to be here today, and wouldn't have been here had it not been for the three other women who have alleged sexual harassment against Mr. Cain.
“I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean. Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people, and then move forward. America is in horrible turmoil, as we all know. We need a leader who can set an example which exemplifies the standards of a good person and moral character. Mr. Cain, I implore you, make this right so that you and the country can move forward and focus on the real issues at hand.”
The Cain campaign released a statement, saying, “Just as the country finally begins to refocus on our crippling $15 trillion national debt and the unacceptably high unemployment rate, now activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain. All allegations of harassment by Herman Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately, the American people will not allow Mr. Cain's bold 9-9-9 plan, clear foreign policy vision, and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”