Herman Cain isn’t the only one who is altering his stance in the alleged sexual harassment case. One of the two women he is accused of pestering is having a hard time making her mind up whether she should come forward.
On Tuesday night the woman’s lawyer, Joel Bennett, said she wanted to put her side of the story, but within hours he was backtracking.
And by Wednesday morning, a second person who knows her told the Washington Post that she is definitely having second thoughts.
The woman, who was identified as a federal employee married to a registered Washington lobbyist, realized that she would become the center of a media firestorm that was not of her making, the unidentified person told the Post.
“She did not create the story,” the person said and she has been “completely swept up in this hurricane.” The woman is said to be discussing the implications of going public with her husband.”
An unidentified relative of the woman – who may or may not be the same person who spoke to the Post – told the New York Times, “This is not something we asked for. This is not something we brought on.”
Cain’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination has been hit by revelations that two employees of the National Restaurant Association accused him of sexual harassment when he was the group’s president in the late 1990s. Each was given a five-figure sum to quit on condition they signed confidentiality agreements which still bar them from talking.
The woman who is considering coming forward worked for the association’s political action committee. Cain is alleged to have invited her up to his hotel room during a convention in Chicago.
The second woman worked in the communications department. Cain told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren on Monday that the only thing he remembers about her allegation is that she claimed he made her feel uncomfortable when he was close to her in his office and made a remark that she was about the same height as his wife Gloria.
Cain said that the second woman had been given a settlement of two or three months’ salary, which he equated with a regular termination agreement.
However the New York Times reported on Wednesday that she had actually received $35,000, the equivalent of a full year’s pay.
The Times said the encounter in Cain’s office had taken place after a work outing that had involved heavy drinking, something that is common within the hospitality industry.
Because of her current employment, the woman involved in the Chicago hotel case is barred under the Hatch Act from any political acts, Bennett told the Post. He originally said she has found it frustrating that she cannot speak out because of a confidentiality agreement she signed with the National Restaurant Association when she quit the job with a five-figure payoff after making the harassment accusations against Cain.
“It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett said in his interview with the Post.
In a separate interview with the New York Times Bennett attacked Cain’s account of the encounter. “He’s basically saying: ‘I never harassed anyone. These claims have no merit.’ I’m sure my client would have a comeback to that.”
But shortly afterwards Bennett gave an interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in which he said she was “mulling over what she wants to do.”
“She's naturally concerned about all the publicity and this coming up 12 years after the fact,” Bennett said. He said his client had 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 and that's certainly not true.”
Bennett said he had been told that “a present or former board member” of the restaurant association was the source of the original Politico story, but when pressed by Cooper he said, “I don’t recall how I heard that, but that’s my understanding.”
Cain’s handling of the revelations, which were initially reported by the website Politico on Sunday, has led to criticism of his campaign team. He started out by refusing to comment, then denied that he had ever harassed anybody. He initially claimed he knew nothing of any settlements, before saying he did remember them.
On Wednesday he was trying to get his presidential campaign back on message. He started with a speech on health care in Alexandria, Va., where he reacted testily when a reporter asked him about the allegations.
“I’m here with these doctors and that’s what I’m going to talk about,” he said. “So don’t even bother asking me all of those other questions that you are all curious about.
When one persisted, Cain snapped, “Excuse me! Excuse me! What part of no don’t some people understand.”
He later went to Capitol Hill to meet with GOP members of Congress.
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