Who Are Herman Cain's Accusers?

November 2, 2011, 2:50 PM

Nov. 2, 2011 — -- A third woman considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain at the National Restaurant Association over what was termed aggressive and unwanted behavior, with invitations to his corporate apartment, according to a report in the Associated Press. Meanwhile, a radio host in Iowa said that the candidate had made "awkward" and "inappropriate" comments to staffers at the station during a visit earlier this year.

Cain has already denounced the two previous allegations of sexual harassment against him as false, and suggested at least one of the women was a poor worker. But an ABC News investigation found that both women are highly respected professionals who have gone on to successful careers in and around government.

One woman in Maryland has worked for years as a public spokesperson for various agencies of the federal government.

Her case appears to be the one Cain has described in his round of interviews, saying she was a writer working in the trade group's communications department.

Cain has said that all he could recall was making an innocuous gesture to this woman while she was in his office with the door open and his secretary just outside. "I referenced this lady's height and I was standing near her, and I did this saying, you're the same height of my wife, because my wife is five feet tall and she comes up to my chin," Cain explained. "This lady's five feet tall and she came up to my chin. So obviously she thought that that was too close for comfort. It showed up in the actual allegation."

A lawyer for the woman, Joel Bennett, later called CNN to dispute Cain's version of events. "To the extent he's made statements that he never sexually harassed anyone," said Bennett, "and there was no validity to these complaints, that's certainly not true with respect to my client's complaints."

On Wednesday evening, Bennett said he had met with his client and that although she wants to restore her reputation and validate her claims, she has decided not to make any public appearances. He said he would likely issue a statement on Thursday on her behalf that contests Cain's version of events.

Accuser Works as Registered Lobbyist in New Jersey

The other woman who complained about Cain is described by former colleagues as now working as a registered lobbyist in New Jersey.

Cain says he recalls going out for drinks with her and other employees of the Restaurant Association after work."She was in some of those group activities where we went out together, but it was never, she and I alone or anything like that," said Cain.

But the incident that prompted the woman's complaint, which took place at a restaurant in Crystal City, Virginia, according to a former pollster for the NRA, was much more serious.

Oklahoma political consultant Chris Wilson talked about it on KTOK radio this morning.

"She was a very lower level staffer I think she was maybe two years out of college and this all occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City and everybody was very aware of it," said Wilson. " I don't want to be drawn into it specifically, but if she comes out and talks about it, it's like I said, it'll probably be the end of his campaign." Wilson currently works for a Rick Perry political action committee.

Cain's recollection of the reported financial settlements has changed through the week. At first he said he was unaware of any settlement, then said an accuser had been paid three months salary, then upped that to three to six months salary.

Today, the New York Times reported that one of the women had accepted a settlement from the NRA that was worth a full year's pay, $35,000.

Said employment lawyer David Scher, "When you pay someone a year of salary to resolve a case, that means the company probably thought there was some merit to it."

The Associated Press said that the third Cain accuser claimed that in addition to an invitation to his corporate apartment in Washington, he had had confided to colleagues how attractive he found her.

Steve Deace, a conservative radio talk show host in Iowa, said that Cain had made "awkward" and "inappropriate" comments to two women who worked at his station, but that he had chosen not to make the information public. Cain campaign staffer Mark Block had made a public allusion to a radio talk show host in Iowa complaining about Cain's behavior but had not named the host.

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After two days of talking to reporters, Cain avoided them on Wednesday, perhaps taking the advice of a newly hired crisis management team.

Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon today dismissed reports of a third accuser as part of an attempt to smear the candidate.

"Mr. Cain has said over the past two days at public events that we could see other baseless allegations made against him as this appalling smear campaign continues," said Gordon. "Since his critics have not been successful in attacking his ideas, they are resorting to bitter personal attacks. Mr. Cain deserves better."

The new tack also involved trying to shift attention to who might have leaked the story to the media, with accusations from Cain and his chief of staff that the story was planted by the campaign of Texas governor Rick Perry.

The candidate told a Tea Party town hall meeting, via phone, that the Perry campaign was behind the original Politico story about the harassment charges. "We now know, and have been able to trace [the story] back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up, in order to discredit me and slow us down," said Cain. "The fingerprints are all over the Rick Perry campaign, based upon our sources."

In an interview with Forbes, Cain said that he had told GOP consultant Curt Anderson, who worked on his 2004 U.S. Senate bid, about a settlement of harassment charges from his time at NRA. Anderson now works for the Rick Perry campaign.

Mark Block, Cain's chief of staff, said, "I think the Perry campaign owes Herman Cain and America an apology."

The Perry campaign issued a statement saying that no one in the campaign was involved in spreading the sexual harassment story "in any way," and that the campaign first learned of the charges from the original Politico story. Ray Sullivan, Perry's communications director, called Block's charge "reckless and false." Anderson also denied leaking the harassment story to Politico, and said he learned of the settlement by reading about it in Politico.

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