Tuesday, 08 November 2011

Woman Publicly Alleges Cain Harassment

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Days  after news broke of Herman Cain's alleged cases of sexual harassment, new updates continue to flood news outlets. The story began by revealing that during Cain's tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association, he was accused of sexual harassment by two women. Following that story, however, other women came forward to make similar accusations against the GOP presidential contender. The latest woman to make such an accusation is Sharon Bialek, who is the first to voice her allegations publicly.

Cains other accusers have been unable to make public statements regarding their encounters with Cain, as they signed non-disclosure agreements with the National Restaurant Association upon their resignation from the company. The third never filed a formal complaint against Cain, claiming she decided against it because her regular encounters with Cain began to subside.

Bialek was the fourth accuser to come forward. She never filed a former complaint, and is not bound by any non-disclosure agreement. During a New York press conference on Monday, Bialek who is from Chicago claimed that Cain made aggressive sexual advances towards her in July 1997 after she had asked him for help finding employment. The Washington Post reports:

After being let go by the NRA foundation, Bialek, who had met Cain on several occasions during conferences and at a dinner, reached out to Cain to obtain guidance on getting a new job. The NRA confirmed on Monday afternoon that Bialek had worked for its education foundation from December 1996 to June 1997.

According to Bialek, Cain put his hand under her skirt and reached for her genitals. She adds that Cain pushed her head towards his crotch while they were in a car. She claims that she responded to these advances by saying, This isnt what I came here for, Mr. Cain. She claims that his response to her statement was, You want a job, right?

Bialek admits that she did not file a sexual harassment claim at the time of the incident, nor does she intend to seek legal action against Cain.

Im coming forward to give a face and a voice to those women who cannot or for whatever reason do not wish to come forward, said Bialek, speaking at the Friars Club in New York. Bialek also indicates that she is speaking 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 hired attorney Gloria Allred, who, the Washington Post notesis known for high-profile cases that bring as much attention to her as they do to her clients, and of doing much of her legal advocacy at news conferences. According to Bialek, Allred took her case without charging a fee.

Cains camp contends that Allreds presence in the case may actually help to garner support for Cain. They tweeted, Welcome to the campaign, Glorida Allred. What took you so long?... with a link to the fundraising page for Cains campaign site.

But Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post disagrees:

For those who think Allred makes Bialek less credible, they should keep in mind (as I learned several times in my legal career) that although Allred may be a publicity hound, she hasnt been guilty of bringing forth frauds. Its not easy to get to be a client in Allreds firm; the vetting for that is more extensive than most campaigns perform on their own candidates.

Bialeks attorney held a press conference on Monday that permitted Bialek the opportunity to recount the details of her encounter with Cain.

At that conference, Bialek asked that Cain come forward and admit to the allegations against him. I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean. I implore you, make this right.

Bialeks claims are said to be quite similar to those purported by one of Cains other accusers. Joel P. Bennett, the attorney who represents that anonymous accuser, states, The conduct is similar. I cant get more specific. But I consider it corroborating evidence. It is similar conduct by the same person.

Cains campaign has denied all of Bialeks allegations.

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, said Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon in the statement.

All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false, said campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon in a statement. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cains bold '9-9-9 Plan,' clear foreign policy vision, and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.

Cain asserts that there is not an ounce of truth to all these allegations and claims that Bialeks account is totally fabricated.

Cain has announced that he plans to give a formal response to the accusations levied by Bialek on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

Some analysts view Cains 6 p.m. conference as potentially detrimental to his campaign. Rubin writes:

But once Cain decides to go Clinton on us strike out at the accusers as bimbos, frauds and manipulators he risks offending and dismaying many more voters. And he should be careful. There may not be a blue dress in this tale, but the number of known and unknown women could be very large and the amount of corroborating information is unknown to Cain. An aggressive performance might encourage, rather than deter, more women from coming forward.

Despite the ongoing nature of this news story, however, Cain has still held on to most of his supporters. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC poll which came out about a week after the story broke, Cains support has not waned dramatically. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 54 percent of Republican voters arent concerned about voting for Cain. It is worth noting that Cains favorability has dropped a bit amongst Republican voters.

Some contend, however, that Bialeks accusations could significantly impact Cain's support, as she has put a face on the accusations that have otherwise come from anonymous and unidentified sources.

Photo: Sharon Bialek, a Chicago-area woman, addresses a news conference at the Friars Club, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, in New York: AP Images

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