Chicago Woman Claims Herman Cain Wanted Her to Trade Sex for Job

Sharon Bialek says she wants to 'give a face' to Cain's accusers.

November 7, 2011, 10:26 AM

Nov. 7, 2011 — -- Sharon Bialek of Chicago became the first woman accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment to go public Monday, describing an alleged incident in Washington in 1997 in which the presidential contender, then the president of the National Restaurant Association, stuck his hand up her skirt and tried to pull her head toward his crotch.

"I said, 'What are you doing?'" alleged Bialek, who said she had contacted Cain for help getting a job. "You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for."

According to Bialek, Cain answered, "You want a job, right?"

Bialek claims that after the incident she rejoined her boyfriend and told him that Cain had been "sexually inappropriate." She also said she had confronted Cain recently at a Tea Party event and asked him, "Do you remember me?" and that he had confirmed that he remembered her and he "kind of looked uncomfortable."

Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon immediately responded with a statement that said, "All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone."

Bialek, now 50, appeared with attorney Gloria Allred at a press conference at New York's Friars Club. Two other women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Cain while he helmed the NRA, but neither has spoken publicly. On Friday, Joel Bennett, an attorney for one of the first two accusers said she would decline to come forward and discuss the case further.

On Monday, Bennett described Bialek's story to ABC News as familiar. "I'm not authorized to give specifics, but the conduct is similar and it's corroborating evidence for the complaint my client filed." The blonde Bialek is similar in appearance to the two earlier accusers, whose identities have been confirmed by ABC News.

According to the Associated Press, a third woman also alleges sexual harassment by Cain while working at the trade group, but said did not file an internal complaint because one of her coworkers had already done so.

Allred described Bialek as a Republican and the single mother of a 13-year-old who had worked for an educational branch of the National Restaurant Association in Chicago between 1996 and 1997. The NRA confirms that Bialek worked for the trade group from December 1996 to June 1997, but said via email to ABC News that "policy precludes us from commenting about personnel issues regarding current or former employees other than to confirm dates of employment."

According to Bialek, she had first met Cain at an NRA event in Chicago in 1997, and then arranged to meet with him in Washington shortly thereafter when she found herself out of a job.

When she arrived in Washington, Bialek claimed, her hotel room had been upgraded. Cain "smirked" and told her he had arranged it.

After drinks and dinner, 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 protested, said Bialek, Cain agreed to take her back to her hotel.

Bialek said she had come forward "to give a face to those women who cannot, and on behalf of all women who are harrassed and don't come forward out of fear." She said she did not file a complaint at the time because she was not employed.

She said that at the Tea Party event, which was before Politico published a story revealing that two women had accused Cain of sexual harassment, "I kept wondering to myself, has he done to other woman, women, what he had done to me. And whether anyone was going to speak up about it. I really hoped for his sake, that -- and his candidacy, that mine was not -- that mine was an isolated incident."

"I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean," said Bialek. "Just admit what you did. Mr. Cain, I implore you to make this right so we can move forward."

Cain has denied the previous allegations of sexual harassment, and has charged the presidential campaign of Texas governor Rick Perry with leaking the story. Perry's campaign denies any involvement, which surfaced in Politico more than a week ago.

After his Saturday night debate with fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich in Texas, during which he accused the media of failing to follow "journalistic standard(s)" in reporting the sexual harassment story, Cain told reporters that "everything has been answered."

"End of story," said Cain. "We're getting back on message, okay?"

On Monday, the Cain campaign greeted the announcement of Gloria Allred's press conference with a derisive Tweet: "Welcome to the campaign, Gloria Allred. What took you so long?"

Allred is well known for representing witness Amber Frey during the Scott Peterson murder case, the family of the late Nicole Brown Simpson during O.J. Simpson's murder trial and former Tiger Woods girlfriend Rachel Uchitel during the public controversy over the golfer's extramarital affairs.

In introducting Bialek, Allred said, "She reached out to Mr. Cain for help finding another job. Mr. Cain instead provided her with his idea of a stimulus package."

Former Employees: Herman Cain Regular on Bar Scene

Former employees tell ABC News that Cain was a regular on Washington's after-work bar scene, often with young women who worked with him at the National Restaurant Association, where he was president and CEO from 1996 to 1999.

Though some defenders say it was just Cain being personable and gregarious, Thursday the presidential candidate was pressed about new accounts that he asked one young female employee to return to his corporate apartment with him.

Cain told Fox News host Sean Hannity, "That is absolute fabrication, man," and said he had an apartment "near the airport because I traveled so much." Cain's wife Gloria had continued to live in Omaha after he took the job at the NRA, according to reports, and he often flew home to see her.

Cain told Hannity he never even made flattering remarks to an accuser he had allegedly asked to accompany him to his apartment.

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

Who Are Herman Cain's Accusers?

As ABC News has reported, two of the women who received settlements from the Restaurant Association are well known in government circles.

One, now in her forties, is single and registered as a lobbyist in New Jersey.

The woman who declined to speak publicly Friday is in her fifties now, married, and a spokesperson for a federal agency in Washington.

On Friday, she released a statement through lawyer Joel Bennett saying she was a victim of "a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances" while working for Cain at the National Restaurant Association.

"Mr. Cain knows the specifics" of the harassment complaint, 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."

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"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 "quailed as sexual harassment in our opinion."

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