A doctor who once dated Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialek came forward today to say that he remembered Bialek telling him in 1997 that Cain had "touched her in an inappropriate manner," and that he was the one who urged her to contact lawyer Gloria Allred and go public with her accusation.
Dr. Victor Zuckerman of Shreveport, Louisiana, who appeared at a Monday afternoon press conference with attorney Gloria Allred, said he had decided to go public himself in order to rebut Herman Cain's public statement that he had no idea who Sharon Bialek was and couldn't recall ever meeting her. "I'm here to shed light on whether or not Herman Cain knows Sharon Bialek." Zuckerman also admitted that he, like his ex-girlfriend, had experienced financial difficulties, but said he was not coming forward in order to profit.
Four different women have accused the Republican presidential frontrunner of sexually harassing them while they worked at the National Restaurant Association. Karen Kraushaar and a second woman filed internal complaints with the trade group and received financial settlements. A third woman told the Associated Press she had considered filing a complaint against Cain but decided against it because a coworker had already filed.
Cain has categorically denied all allegations of sexual harassment.
Bialek became the fourth accuser, and the first to go public, with a New York press conference on Nov. 7. She alleges Cain put his hand up her skirt, reached for her genitals and pulled her head toward his crotch. Bialek claims that when she resisted, he said, "You want a job, don't you?"
At the press conference, Gloria Allred flourished signed statements from two different men to whom Bialek had allegedly reported Cain's "inappropriate behavior" at the time. One of the men was described as a longtime friend and Chicago businessman, the other as a pediatrician Bialek was dating. Bialek did not identify the doctor by name at the time, but said she had traveled to New Jersey with him to meet his family, and had taken the train down to Washington for a meeting with Cain.
On Tuesday, Zuckerman confirmed that he was the doctor Bialek was dating in 1997. He said that Bialek had been working for the National Restaurant Association's education arm as a fundraiser in Chicago when she met Cain, then the trade group's president and CEO, at a national convention.
"During the convention," said Zuckerman, "Sharon indeed met and spent time with Mr. Cain. Mr Cain was the keynote speaker. Her job required that she be present at all functions. I remember Sharon saying that she and Mr. Cain had been at many of the same events. I also recall that at these events she was seated next to him at a lunch and at a dinner. She also told me she had the opportunity to speak with him at length with him in both cases."
Zuckerman said that Bialek was eager for him to meet "this man of wit, warmth and great public speaking ability." Bialek and Zuckerman went to a dinner where he met Mr. Cain, who then invited the couple to an after party attended by 50 to 100 people, according to Zuckerman.
Victor Zuckerman: Bialek Said 'Something Had Happened'
When Bialek lost her job just days later, Zuckerman says he recommended that she contact Cain for help finding a new one. He said that he paid for a room at the Capital Hilton, but did not upgrade Bialek.
During her own press conference with Gloria Allred, Bialek also said that Zuckerman had paid for a room at the hotel in Washington. When arrived, however, she found she was in a suite. According to Bialek, when she met Cain for drinks, he said, "I upgraded you."
Bialek said she and Cain then went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant, after which he drove her over to the headquarters of the National Restaurant Association.
Outside the building, when they were in Cain's car, she said, "He put his hand on my leg and reached for my genitals. He brought my head toward his crotch." When she resisted, said Bialek, saying that she had not met with him for that reason and that she had a boyfriend, he implied that if she wanted a job, she should comply. According to Bialek, she asked Cain to take her back to her hotel and he agreed.
Zuckerman said he can confirm Bialek's account of what happened after she came back from Washington. "When she returned, she was upset," said Zuckerman. "She said something had happened. He had touched her in an inappropriate manner. She didn't want to talk about it further."
Zuckerman said that he has stayed in touch with Bialek, and that several weeks ago when Politico published a report on two former National Restaurant Association employees receiving settlements after making charges of sexual harassment, he contacted her.
"I remembered that she had had a bad experience. I called her to ask her if she was one of the accusers. She said no, but that based on her experience that such accusations didn't surprise her."
Zuckerman said that Bialek "became livid" when she heard Cain had denied the accusations. "I suggested that if she was going to speak out, she should call Gloria Allred."
Zuckerman said that "in order to get ahead of any parties that want to discredit me," he wanted to disclose that he had no criminal record or disciplinary record as a doctor, but that he had moved to Louisiana from Bloomingdale, Illinois after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
He also said that he is a registered Republican, and that there was no political purpose to his statement. "The public has a right to this information to make informed decisions," said Zuckerman.
Cain has denied all the sexual harassment accusations, blaming them on his political rivals and on a "Democrat machine." He said he has never acted inappropriately with anyone. He also said that his first response to Sharon Bialek's press conference was confusion, since he did not know her and had no memory of ever meeting her.
In Shreveport Monday, Gloria Allred called on Cain to be "honest and forthcoming with the public," and admit that he knows Sharon Bialek, "admit all the details of what happened when she met with him in 1997," and also address in detail the allegations made by his other accusers.
"Mr. Cain's strategy of blanket denials simply won't work," said Allred.
Sharon Bialek's Rocky Financial HistoryOn Monday, after Dr. Zuckerman spoke in Shreveport, WLS-TV, the ABC owned-and-operated affiliate in Chicago, spoke with Sharon Bialek, who applauded Zuckerman and seemed to predict more claims against Cain surfacing. "What happened today was a great thing and there's more to come," said Bialek. When asked about an apparent eviction notice on the door of her Glenview, Illinois townhome, however, she stopped talking. "No comment," said Bialek. "I gotta roll." Bialek has also reportedly split from her most recent boyfriend, According to public documents reviewed by ABC News, Bialek has a history of job changes and financial woes over the past two decades.
The 50-year-old Chicago woman has declared bankruptcy twice, and has lost multiple court judgments for debts totalling more than $10,000.
Bialek filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and again in 2001. Among the debts listed in 2001 are over $14,000 in credit card charges and more than $17,000 owed to the lawyer who handled a paternity case.
As of August 2011, she owed the Illinois Dept. of Revenue $4,384. By 2009, she owed the federal government $5,176 in taxes for years 2004 and 2005. There was also a lien for $885 filed against her in 2006 by a company that installed a water heater in her apartment. It was not clear if Bialek has repaid the debts.
In 2000, a judge awarded plaintiff Broadacre Management $4930.77 for unpaid rent, which included court costs. Broadacre was listed as a creditor on her 2001 Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Last year Bialek lost a default judgment for more than $3,500 to Illinois Lending, according to Cook County online court records, and in 2005 lost another judgment in a separate case for more than $3,000.
In February, Bialek moved out of a home in Mundelein, Illinois she had shared with then fiance Mark Harwood, according to Harwood.
Harwood told WLS that Bialek had a "huge heart" and is "always trying to do the right thing."
"She's of the same political persuasion as Herman Cain," Harwood told WLS. "There was no money on the table to go and have an interview. This is truly about an American girl who's got a big heart and wants to do the right thing."
Bialek's father Chester, 85, told New York's Daily News that his daughter was a political conservative, very honest, and "would not lie" or "make anything up."
He also told the paper, "She's had a lot of jobs, and some problems, but I don't want to get too personal."
Before working at the NRA, Bialek had hosted a cooking show for nine years, worked for Revlon and for Easter Seals, according to Allred. Between 1993 and 1996 she worked in marketing at four different companies, according to WLS.