As Herman Cain struggles to move past allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior this week, a fifth woman has come forward with a story about her unusual experience almost a decade ago with the Republican presidential frontrunner.
In an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC News, Donna Donella recalled what she alleges happened the day her path crossed with Cain, when the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza delivered an address at a seminar in Cairo, Egypt in late 2001. Donella had helped organize the speech on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
"He came to Egypt, he gave his seminar, and then after he was done speaking, there was a Q and A portion and a woman in the audience asked a question," Donella said. "Shortly after he left the stage, he approached a colleague and myself and said something to the effect of, 'Could you please put me in touch with the lovely young woman in the audience who asked me the question so I can give her a more detailed answer over dinner?'"
Donella, who lives in Arlington, Va. and currently works as a management consultant, said she declined to set Cain up and thought it was "a very odd request and we were a little suspicious of his tone."
"The other colleague who was present was like, 'What are we? We're not go-betweens, or matchmakers or anything like that. That's not our role,'" she recalled. "He was just onstage talking about what a family man he was and how important his Christian values were to him, and then he was just asking to go to dinner with a woman from the audience. [His request] may have been innocent. Maybe not."
Cain has been accused of sexual harassment by four women who worked at the National Restaurant Association when he was president and CEO of the trade group in the late 1990s. He has categorically denied any inappropriate behavior. During a press conference Tuesday, he said, ""The charges and the accusations I absolutely reject. They simply didn't happen."
Donella alleges that after she and her colleague refused to introduce Cain to the Egyptian woman, Cain swiftly turned his attention to Donella, and asked her to join him instead.
"He then said, 'Well then I'll have dinner with you because I hate to eat alone,'" Donella said. "I think that my face indicated that I was uncomfortable with that and so my colleague jumped in and said, 'Let's all go to dinner.'"
"I thought that it was kind of suspicious that a married man was asking to have dinner with the woman from the audience, and then asked to have dinner with a single woman working on the project, so I was not comfortable with that," she said. "As a woman, sometimes you have a feeling about these things that some men don't always have the purest of intentions and that was sort of the vibe that both my colleague and I had gotten, which is why we kept it as a group outing, which is why I didn't put myself in a situation where I'd be alone with him at all."
Donella, who was 31, attended the dinner with another female colleague and the colleague's husband, and remembers the occasion as "a fairly non-descript dinner" with the bulk of the conversation focusing on Egypt and Cain's experience as a businessman.
But when the check came…
"He went and ordered these two expensive bottles of wine and when the bill came, he did not make any moves towards the bill so we ended up having to pay it," Donella claimed. "We had to pick that up." Donella says she's not accusing Cain of harassing her personally, but she said that "the behavior that he displayed in Egypt was indicative of a pattern of behavior, or was consistent with a pattern of behavior" and she felt a moral obligation to come forward with her story.
"I, in good conscience, could not sit by and let him continue to call them liars and say it was all false accusations when I witnessed behavior, while not outright sexual harassment, but behavior that was consistent with their stories," Donella said. "I think they're probably not lying. I can't say that with 100 percent certainty, but from what I saw, I would have no problem believing that what they said is probably true."
"If he's this God-fearing Christian that he portrays himself to be, he should be honest…rather than attacking these women," she added. "Where there's smoke there's fire."