Woman Accuses Cain of Bold Sexual Advance

By: Beth Fouhy and Jack Gillum, Associated Press
By: Beth Fouhy and Jack Gillum, Associated Press

New York, NY (AP) - Leaving little to the imagination, a Chicago-area woman on Monday accused Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain of making a crude sexual advance more than a decade ago when she was seeking his help finding a job.

"Come clean," Sharon Bialek challenged Cain at a news conference in New York at which she described herself as "a face and a voice" to support other accusers who have so far remained anonymous.

Cain's campaign swiftly denied Bialek's account. "All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false," it said in a written statement.

Even so, Bialek's nationally broadcast appearance on cable television marked a new and - for Cain - dangerous turn in a controversy that he has struggled for more than a week to shed. An upstart in the presidential race, Cain shot to the top of public opinion polls in recent weeks and emerged, however temporarily, as the main conservative challenger to Mitt Romney.

Accompanied by her prominent lawyer, Gloria Allred, Bialek accused Cain of making a sexual advance one night in mid-July 1997, when she had travelled to Washington to have dinner with him in hopes he could help her find work.

She said the two had finished dinner and were in a car for what she thought was a ride to an office building.

"Instead of going into the offices he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt toward my genitals," she said.

"He also pushed my head toward his crotch," she added.

Bialek said she told her boyfriend, an unidentified pediatrician, as well as a longtime male friend about the episode.

None of Cain's other accusers has provided details as graphic as Bialek's account. But Joel Bennett, an attorney who represents one of them, said her details were "similar in nature" to what his client encountered.

Allred, a prominent sex discrimination attorney with Democratic ties, moved preemptively to blunt any attacks on Bialek's motives. She described her client as a registered Republican, a single mother and a woman with a long and successful career.

She also said Bialek "could have attempted to sell her story but chose not to do so," and knew that by stepping forward, she would receive scrutiny.

Court records indicate Bialek had financial difficulties a decade ago when she filed for bankruptcy protection and reported $4,500 in unpaid rent and $13,000 in outstanding credit card bills.

Current property records show she owns a house on an acre of land in a Chicago suburb.

Some of Cain's allies immediately made a target of Allred, a Democratic campaign donor, rather than focusing any anger on Cain's accuser.

Georgia state Sen. Joshua McKoon, who has endorsed Cain, accused Allred of "carnival theatrics" fueled by a partisan agenda.

"Her involvement makes it clear that it's a political smear job orchestrated by those on the left because there is nothing more terrifying than Herman Cain as the Republican nominee," the Republican lawmaker said.

But Doug Heye, a political consultant who is unaligned in the GOP race, said Bialek's allegations "are different because they involve a name and specific details."

He said Allred's involvement "is going to make some people disbelieve the charges out of hand because of the sideshow she creates. But Herman Cain has to be clear and convincing in his response."

Even before Bialek stepped forward, presidential rival Jon Huntsman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour had publicly urged Cain to address the sexual harassment allegations in greater detail.

It wasn't clear he would.

After spending much of last week denying accusations, he told reporters who sought to question him Saturday night, "don't even go there."

Cain had an evening appearance scheduled on the Jimmy Kimmel show, his only public event of the day.

According to lawyer and client, Bialek was employed for parts of 1996 and 1997 at the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group that Cain headed at the time. She said she first met him at an organization convention, interacting with him several times over the course of a few days.

After she was fired from her job about a month later, she said her boyfriend told her, "Herman seems to think highly of you. Why don't you contact him?"

That led to a trip to Washington about a month later, where she recalled that Cain upgraded her hotel room to a suite and made his unwanted sexual advance in the car.

She said she asked Cain what he was doing and recalled he replied, "You said you want a job, right?"

Given her experience and those of other accusers, "I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean," she said. "Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people."

She added: "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 denial from Cain's campaign was swift and as unequivocal as the allegation.

"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," it said.

"Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone."

Bialek, in an interview later Monday, said she had hoped Cain would announce a press conference after her statement to apologize to her. But instead she learned he issued the stern denial.

"I know what happened, and he knows what happened," Bialek said on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight. "One of my whole objectives was to give him the opportunity to come forward, to redeem himself, say, `Hey, I'm sorry. I did this. It happened. And let's move forward.' And it is unfortunate. I'm very disappointed that he didn't take the lead in this."

She said in the interview that she was prepared for an expected media onslaught, but was more concerned about how it would affect her teenage son. She said she wants him to know she "did something for women" by speaking publicly.

When asked if Cain should be president, Bialek said: "I don't think we can have anyone in the White House who is unable to tell the truth."

Before Bialek first stepped to the microphone, the allegations involved two women who had worked at the National Restaurant Association, both of whom filed sexual harassment complaints.

A third woman told The Associated Press last week that she considered filing a workplace complaint against Cain over what she deemed sexually suggestive remarks and gestures that included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.

A former pollster for the restaurant association has said he witnessed yet another episode involving a fourth woman.

Allred has represented several high-profile clients, including Amber Frey, a witness against convicted California killer Scott Peterson. Allred also represented a woman whom news reports accused of having an affair with golfer Tiger Woods.

"I consider sexual harassment the No. 1 problem in the workplace," she told the AP in an interview last week. "It denies equal opportunity in the workforce. If (women) don't protest it, they'll have to continue to suffer."


Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Washington and Shannon McCaffrey in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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  • by Anonymous on Nov 11, 2011 at 06:31 AM
    This woman was not sexually harassed! IF he did what he is accused of she had her body positioned too close to Herman Cain, why was she that close to him?
  • by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 01:52 PM
    Now they discover she lives in the same apartment building with David Axelrod. Interesting, very interesting.
  • by it is what it is on Nov 8, 2011 at 09:50 AM
    Anybody that gets Gloria Alred as their attorney is looking to cash in. I won't believe it until I see some proof and un-named women or this bimbo ain't enough to convince me. He still gets my vote.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM in reply to it is what it is
      The second one named Karen works in the Obama Administration.
  • by Bolillo Location: Wakulla on Nov 8, 2011 at 08:42 AM
    I saw this entire report on the T.V. She read it word for word just like her lawyer wrote it. Very impressive. I was surprised she could read.
  • by Moishe on Nov 8, 2011 at 08:31 AM
    All 4 alleged events took place in 1997. Please. This latest one has no job. Her "fiance" has no job. She refuses to state whether she would is looking to do paid interviews or not. Smells like an easy way to hit the jackpot. Check out the Chicago papers on this altruistic defender of women.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM in reply to Moishe
      How come a serial womanizer only did it during a three year stunt with the NRA when he's been in the workforce over 40 years?? LOL!!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 06:33 AM
    This is ridiculous. Show me proof!!! I will vote for him no matter what the left says about him.
    • reply
      by Ed on Nov 8, 2011 at 07:58 AM in reply to
      Yes, I see your point: Vote Republican - it's easier than thinking.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 09:55 AM in reply to Ed
        She was fired from the NRA for false sexual harassment allegations. Her lawyer should have done her homework first.
        • reply
          by Ed on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM in reply to
          Gee, I wonder who decided the sexual harassment allegations were false? Oh, that's right - the NRA. What a surprise! Cain is done. He should quit wasting more time and money.
  • by Honestly.... Location: Everywhere on Nov 8, 2011 at 06:21 AM
    sounds like a great canidate to run for president of the USA, this man has absolutely no morals, but some see the former pizza man to be a qualified canidate? He does show some traits that are common in people you can trust.....not...this guys a joke.
    • reply
      by Jack on Nov 8, 2011 at 08:14 AM in reply to Honestly....
      So do you believe every gold digger that accuses people of something? Do some research on this lady. Gloria Allred is an ambulance chaser of the worst kind. He's more qualified than the community organizer we have now.
    • reply
      by it is what it is on Nov 8, 2011 at 09:53 AM in reply to Honestly....
      So how's that other guy working out for you? He also had no experience in doing anything, oh that's right - he was a "community organizer". Now tell me again what exactly that is? Cain has some bold ideas and he's not afraid to put them out there. I'm sick of career politicians, the man has saved numerous corporations, let's give him a chance. I'd take Joe the Dog Catcher over OweBummer.
      • reply
        by Ben on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:33 AM in reply to it is what it is
        If you think that electing a republican is the answer to the nation's ills, then if one wins in 2012, we will find out what real pain is. Republicans in power dupe the voters into electing them, people fall for it, then, once in office, they turn around and neglect the middle class and the poor while enriching themselves and their pals. Then, like comatose Fox News drones, you vote for them over and over because all you want to hear is that they will keep you safe from terrorists, gays, environmentalists and poor people. Use your brain - think!
  • by if Location: nf on Nov 8, 2011 at 06:14 AM
    i am not a cain supporter but connect the dots-chicago, allred,obomma and staff election all democrats.from a non political party veiw?????
  • by Jack Location: Tallahassee on Nov 8, 2011 at 06:07 AM
    As I suggested earlier, Cain is toast. Confronted with this type of PR train wreck, he is doing everything exactly wrong in dealing with it. And it's not like there weren't plenty of self-destructing, scandal-plagued, republican case studies before him. A few days ago, he said he will never answer the accusations. What an idiot! Today, he'll tackle it head-on and "set the record straight". Does he think that after his news conference everyone will believe him and forget the whole thing? Fat chance! He'll be tired old news in a month or two just like Palin, Bachmann and Sanitorium with Gingrich soon to follow. Good riddance to them all.
    • reply
      by Jack on Nov 8, 2011 at 08:15 AM in reply to Jack
      He is UP in the polls and his contributions have INCREASED. The citizens see this for what it is. BS!!
      • reply
        by Ed on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:15 AM in reply to Jack
        Not anymore. Read the news. His poll numbers are crashing.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Nov 8, 2011 at 11:39 AM in reply to Jack
      IF this damages Cain, expect NEWT to be the nominee. Newt and Cain are the only grown-ups in the race.
      • reply
        by Bubba on Nov 8, 2011 at 05:09 PM in reply to
        You are right! Newt will get stronger!I am for Cain,but if Newt gets it I hope he will take Cain as his VP.The democrats are the most evil immoral people in America!They will do anything any way they can to win.They are working for the devil! I work for God!!!All these false accusations against Cain will come full circle against the left!They will be crying and gnashing their rotten teeth!
  • by me Location: here on Nov 8, 2011 at 05:26 AM
    If the republicans nominate him...this independent voter will vote for him.
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