Cain Accuser: "Unwanted Advances" from GOP Candidate

"Mr. Cain knows the specifics," says lawyer.

November 4, 2011, 11:00 AM

Nov. 4, 2011 — -- One of Herman Cain's accusers released a statement Friday saying she was a victim of "a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances" while working for him at the National Restaurant Association.

"Mr. Cain knows the specifics" of the harassment complaint, the woman's attorney, Joel Bennett, said during a press conference in front of his Georgetown law office. "It had very specific incidents in it. If he chooses not to remember or to not acknowledge those, that's his issue."

Bennett read the woman's statement Friday afternoon after the restaurant industry association once led by the Republican presidential contender announced it would waive a confidentiality agreement that had barred her from discussing the harassment complaint she filed in July of 1999. Friday's disclosure provided few details about the specific incidents that led her to complain. However it did, for the first time, reveal that Cain allegedly made repeated, unwanted advances, and that there were alleged to have been multiple incidents over the course of "at least a month or two."

"She has decided not to relive the specifics of the incidents so I cannot give any further details," Bennett said.

Bennett said he did not want to characterize "what was physical and what was verbal," but that Cain's behavior "qualified as sexual harassment in our opinion."

The woman's statement came after spending nearly a week desperately searching for a way to both defend her reputation and maintain some semblance of privacy, her lawyer told ABC News prior to releasing his client's statement Friday.

"I'm sure my client stands by the allegations she made in 1999," Bennett told ABC News. "But her privacy is her primary concern."

WATCH Brian Ross interview Joel Bennett

Bennett described his client as an "intelligent, well-educated woman with a professional job in the federal government, happily married for 26 years." He says she was thrust unsuspectingly into the public spotlight earlier this week when word leaked that she had once filed a sexual harassment complaint against Cain, a Republican presidential contender who had been surging in recent political polls.

"It's been quite an adjustment for her," Bennett said. "She's a private person, and has no desire to be a public figure."

His client's wish, Bennett said, was to have the chance to respond to Cain's assertion that her sexual harassment complaint was determined to have been without merit. The woman had no interest in dredging up the episode, Bennett said, her desire to keep quiet only shaken when she heard Cain say her allegations were determined to be baseless fabrications.

"I know that she was upset about it," Bennett said. "He said that the allegations were baseless and he never engaged in any such acts, and my client made good faith complaints based on actual events."

Bennett said the woman had been hamstrung, unable to respond because of the deal she struck with the National Restaurant Association. As part of the agreement, she was paid a reported $45,000. If she spoke out, he said, she could be the subject of a lawsuit, and could lose her money.

But on Friday, the association released a statement of its own, saying that the organization had advised Bennett "that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett's client to comment."

Her comments were restrained, but during about 10 minutes of questions that followed, Bennett made it clear his client was distressed that Cain had dismissed her harassment complaint as false and frivolous.

"My client stands by the complaint she made," he said. "Mr. Cain has made statements. My client felt she wanted to respond to those statements."

Further, Bennett said he believes the fact that there were at least two complaints brought against Cain during the four years he worked at the association was "meaningful."

Two Sexual Harassment Complaints Against Cain Surface

Bennett's client represents one of two formal cases brought against Cain that have surfaced in the past week. The presidential candidate has acknowledged the two complaints came during his four-year tenure at the restaurant industry lobbying group. A third woman has told the Associated Press that she, also, felt harassed by Cain in the workplace. But she said she did not file a formal complaint. None of the women has been named publicly.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," he said. "It tells me there was some sexual harassment activity by this man at this time."

Cain has vigorously disputed the assertion that he harassed anyone. His has blamed the surfacing of the decade-old charges on political rivals, and called the media's pursuit of the story a "witch hunt."

Cain told Fox News host Sean Hannity he never even made flattering remarks to a second accuser, a coworker he'd allegedly asked to accompany him to his apartment.

"I didn't make those kind of compliments," Cain said. "I didn't say that she was hot, or that sort of thing. ... I know I didn't do that kind of stuff."

Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, said earlier this week that the presidential candidate "has never sexually harassed anyone. Period. End of story."

The restaurant association statement also indicated that Cain disputed the allegations at the time they were made. He was not, however, a party to the settlement agreement.

Bennett said he does not know if Cain's comments about the episode violated the terms of the settlement.

"That's another interesting legal question, whether someone who was the accused and was the CEO would be bound without signing it, and I really don't know the answer to that right now," he said.

Asked if Bennett believes Cain breached the agreement, the attorney replied: "I think you can make the argument that he has."

Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon released a statement after Bennett delivered his client's statement to the media Friday afternoon.

"We look forward to focusing on our attention on the real issues impacting this country," said Gordon, "like fixing this broken economy and putting Americans back to work through our 9-9-9 Plan, as well as strengthening national security."

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