The women accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment are to join forces to put on a united front in detailing their complaints, Joel Bennett, the attorney representing one of them announced on Wednesday.
But it is not clear how many are willing to go public with their accusations, Bennett admitted, although his client, government public affairs official Karen Kraushaar, will be joined by Sharon Bialek, the first accuser to show her face, at a joint press conference.
Bennett said he was reaching out to at least one other woman who filed an official complaint against Cain when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the late-1990s.
“We are going to reach out to the other women who have made it known that they were sexually harassed by Mr. Cain later today to see who, if any, are willing to participate in the joint press conference,” Bennett told reporters outside his office in Washington, D.C.
“Once we have given everyone else an opportunity to participate, we will coordinate and determine a date, time and location for the joint press conference.”
The details of Kraushaar’s complaints have not yet emerged, although Bennett made it clear they involved far more than Cain’s claim that she was upset because he told her that as she came up to his chin, she was the same height as his wife, Gloria.
“My client is 5 feet 2 inches. Mr. Cain says his wife is 5 feet tall, so I’m not even sure my client is the person he made the comment to,” said Bennett.
“But assuming he made the comment, my client is an intelligent, well-educated woman. She would never file a sexual harassment complaint about a comment like that – you are the same height as my wife – that is ridiculous.
“No rational well-intentioned person would file a sexual harassment complaint about a comment like that.”
Bennett said the full details of Kraushaar’s complaint – “multiple instances on multiple occasions” – against Cain will be revealed at the press conference.
Bennett said that Cain’s statement that he does not remember any instances of alleged harassment does not make sense. “The National Restaurant Association statement issued last Friday said he denied the allegations. How can you deny allegations if you don’t remember them?”
Bennett said he would not comment on whether he or Kraushaar, a registered Republican, believe that Cain is fit for the White House, but defended his client’s decision to come forward. “When you run for the highest office in this land, you open up your whole life to public scrutiny,” he said.
So far four ex-employees of the National Restaurant Association, have made accusations that Cain harassed them. They are:
• Kraushaar, who filed a complaint in 2009, the precise details of which are unclear. She is understood to have received a payoff of $45,000 to stay quiet;
• An unidentified woman who claimed Cain invited her to his hotel room during a convention in Chicago. She was paid around $35,000 to leave;
• A second unidentified woman who told the Associated Press that Cain invited her to his corporate apartment in Washington, D.C. but did not file an official complaint; and
• Bialek, who claimed Cain tried to put his hand up her skirt while they sat in his car in Washington, D.C. in 1997, after she had been fired. She says she approached Cain to help her find another job.
Bennett said he had no idea whether anyone else would join Kraushaar and Bialek at the press conference. “Some women suffer these types of actions and don’t complain because they are afraid of the public exposure. Others file complaints and don’t want to go public,” he said.
“It’s up to them to decide. I will respect whatever decision they make.”
Cain has repeatedly denied that he has ever acted inappropriately with anyone. His campaign sent out a press release on Tuesday attacking Bialek’s accusations as “patently false” and tried to discredit her by giving details of six civil court cases in which she was a defendant, as well as reporting that she has worked for nine employers in 17 years and she had been sued in “a paternity matter.”
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