Cain Facing New Harassment Claims, Blames Perry Aide

Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011 04:41 PM

By Martin Gould

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A third former employee of the National Restaurant Association has come forward to say that Herman Cain sexually harassed her, inviting her up to his corporate apartment when he was chairman of the group.

She told the Associated Press that she considered filing a complaint against Cain for his “aggressive and unwanted behavior,” but eventually decided against it.

The woman’s revelation was just one of many hits that Cain took on Wednesday as it became clear that the accusations against him are threatening to grow into a full-blown scandal with the potential to derail his campaign.

Other developments included:
  • Conservative radio host Steve Deace complaining that Cain made “inappropriate comments” to two female staff members during a visit to his studio in Des Moines, Iowa;
  • A man who worked for the restaurant association giving an eyewitness account of Cain’s alleged harassment;
  • The lawyer for one of the women who made formal complaints against Cain approaching the National Restaurant Association asking for his client to be released from the confidentiality agreement that prevents her from speaking publicly; and
  • Cain snapping at reporters who tried to ask him questions about the burgeoning scandal.
The third woman – who like the other two has not been publicly identified – told the AP that Cain told her that he had mentioned to colleagues how attractive he thought she was. He then gave what she described as “a private invitation” to his corporate apartment outside of work.

She described his actions which, she said, included making sexually suggestive comments, as “inappropriate and it made me feel uncomfortable.”

This third woman is not believed to be subject to any confidentiality agreements with the restaurant association, unlike the two who made formal complaints, and there is no record that she received any pay-off when left the group.

However, she insisted on anonymity because she feared retaliation.

She said she did not make a formal complaint because as time went on, she had less and less contact with Cain at work.

Cain has spent the past three days battling allegations that he harassed two female employees in the late 1990s when he headed the restaurant association. Details have only now started to trickle out about what he is alleged to have done.

Joel Bennett, the lawyer for one of the women, said he had asked the association to allow his client to speak, although the association said they had had no contact with him.

The third woman’s accusations capped a terrible day for Cain, which started when he went to Alexandria, Va. to give a talk on health care. He curtly told reporters “I’m here with these doctors and that’s what I’m going to talk about. So don’t even bother asking me all of those other questions that you are all curious about."

When one reporter tried to pin him down on whether he would agree to release his accusers from their confidentiality agreements, Cain snapped, “Excuse me! Excuse me! What part of no don’t some people understand?”

His day got worse when Chris Wilson, who worked for the restaurant association in the 1990s – and now works as a pollster for the campaign of Cain rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry – told a radio station in Oklahoma City that he had witnessed Cain in a restaurant in Crystal City, Va. with one of the women who made formal complaints about his behavior.

He said that for him, too, there were legal reasons why he could not go into details of what happened. But he said Cain’s actions were so bad that if the woman in question came forward and talked about it, “It’ll probably be the end of his campaign.”

In an interview on KTOK radio, Wilson described the woman as a low-level staffer, a couple of years out of college. “Everybody was aware of it,” Wilson said. “It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left.”

He said he believes the restaurant association will be left with no choice but to agree to allow the women to speak publicly about Cain’s behavior and that the candidate is only digging himself deeper into a hole by continuing to challenge the women.

Deace’s claim was even more bizarre. It only came after Cain’s own campaign manager, Mark Block, had insisted that Cain had “never sexually harassed anybody. Period. End of story.”

But then, unprompted, Block revealed a new allegation.

“As the hours go by, it’s interesting that we even hear from a radio talk show host of Iowa that a receptionist thought that Mr. Cain’s comments were inappropriate,” he said.

The website Politico, which originally broke the sexual harassment story on Sunday, asked Deace to explain. The nationally syndicated host replied with a cryptic email, saying, “Like awkward/inappropriate things he’s said to two females on my staff, that the fact the guy’s wife is never around…that’s almost always a warning flag to me.”

When Politico pressed him to be more explicit, Deace wrote, “Many a man has been done in by the inability to control his urges. I am no different and just as vulnerable as any other man, which is why I put safeguards around me and hold myself accountable to my wife and other men in my life.

"Especially since I have very talented employees that happen to be women. I go out of my way to treat them like my sisters. For example, I wouldn't tell them or any other woman I am not married to nor related to how pretty she is."

Deace told Politico he had no idea how Block would know about his staff’s unease.

“To the best of my knowledge neither me nor anyone on my staff has ever spoken to Block.”

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