The graphic allegation of sexual impropriety leveled against Herman Cain on Monday by a Chicago woman was “similar” to actions alleged by a Washington-area woman who complained of sexual harassment in the late 1990s, according to the Washington woman’s attorney.
At a news conference Monday, Sharon Bialek of Chicago described aggressive physical acts by Cain in 1997 after she met him to discuss ways he might help her find a job. She said that Cain backed off after she asked him to stop.
Joel Bennett, the Washington attorney for another woman who alleged sexual harassment by Cain, said his client endured similar overtures. He declined to be more specific.
“All I can say is that my client suffered similar sexual harassment,” Bennett said in an email to the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau on Monday. Cain’s presidential campaign staff has issued a statement denying all of the accusations.
“All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false,” said Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon in a prepared statement Monday. “Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cain’s ‘9-9-9 Plan,’ clear foreign policy vision and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”
At the time she made her complaint, Bennett’s client had been working at the National Restaurant Assn. in Washington, where Cain was president and chief executive. The woman hired Bennett to represent her as she sought and received compensation from the association in 1999. Bialek had worked for the association’s foundation office in Chicago and had been laid off at the time the alleged harassment took place.
In the email exchange, Bennett further disclosed that he received a telephone call from a woman named “Sharon” last week reporting that she had her own experience with sexual harassment by Cain.
He said she later told him later that she did not wish to pursue the matter. He noted that the message came from a phone with a Chicago area code. “I think it is likely that the woman who came forward today (Sharon Bialek) is the same person who called me, “ last week, he wrote. “But I cannot be certain.”
In an interview on CNN Monday, Bialek’s attorney, Gloria Allred, would not confirm that Bialek was the one who called Bennett.