Herman Cain Accuser Will Not Go Public
ABC News’ Kevin Dolak and Huma Khan report:
The woman at the center of a decade-old alleged sexual harassment case against Herman Cain will not be going public now that the allegations have resurfaced, according to her attorney.
“She’s not going to affirmatively make any public statements or public appearances about the case. Everything will be through me,” attorney Joel Bennett told the New York Times late Wednesday. “She has a life to live and a career, and she doesn’t want to become another Anita Hill.”
The woman in question was an employee at the National Restaurant Association while Cain was the trade group’s chief executive officer.
Bennett told the Times Wednesday that he will be issuing a proposed statement to the National Restaurant Association that will make clear that Cain’s recent statements about the 1999 incident contradict her version of events. The association will need to agree that the statement will not violate the nondisclosure agreement signed by his client at the time.
The news of the woman’s decision to remain private in the matter came Wednesday after a third woman reportedly said she was subject to sexual harassment by Cain, while the Republican presidential candidate tried to quell the controversy and placed the blame squarely on Rick Perry’s campaign.
“We now know, and have been able to trace [the sexual harassment story] back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up, in order to discredit me and slow us down,” Cain said during a tele-town hall hosted by conservative talk radio host Rusty Humphries.
“Members of his campaign have direct ties to Politico [which broke the story, members of his campaign, people that are supporting him,” Cain said. “It’s just that the fingerprints are all over the Rick Perry campaign, based upon our sources.”
Regardless of how the scandal started, it continued to grow throughout Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported that a third woman formerly employed by the National Restaurant Association said she had been harassed by Cain during his three years working there. The AP did not name the woman, but reported that she described to them sexually suggestive situations including an invitation to his corporate apartment.
Cain today flatly denied the accusation, saying that it was all part of a smear campaign against him.
“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,” his spokesman J.D. Gordan said in a statement. “He has never acted in the way alleged by inside-the-beltway media, and his distinguished record over 40 years spent climbing the corporate ladder speaks for itself.”
Other new allegations also emerged this afternoon. A Republican pollster and a Perry supporter told Politico that Cain acted inappropriately with a woman at a restaurant in Virginia, though he declined to provide details.
In addition, an Iowa radio show host, Steve Deace, said the GOP front-runner said “inappropriate and awkward” things to female employees while visiting the station recently.
Regarding Deace, Cain told Humphries, “I don’t know who that is. That is absolutely ridiculous.”
In an interview with Forbes Tuesday, Cain blamed Curt Anderson, a consultant for his 2004 campaign, for leaking the story to the press. Anderson is now employed by the Perry campaign.
Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, said on Fox News that Perry should apologize to Cain and his family for going to the media with the reports.
“Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology,” Block said. “Quite frankly, this is one of the actions in America that is the reason people don’t get into politics.”
Perry denied leaking the story to the press. His communications director, Ray Sullivan, declared the accusations “reckless and false,” said they “may serve as a temporary distraction from Mr. Cain’s mounting troubles,” and noted irony in the Cain campaign’s claim.
“For a candidate and campaign claiming to be victims of unfounded and unproven accusations, they are awfully quick to hurl unfounded accusations themselves,” Sullivan said. “Contrary to the Cain campaign’s false accusations, there is not one shred of evidence that any member of the Perry campaign had anything to do with the recent stories regarding Herman Cain — because it isn’t true. We first learned of the Cain accusations when we read the story in the news.”
In a written statement, Anderson also said he was not connected.
“I’d never heard any of these allegations until I read them in Politico, nor does anything I read in the press change my opinion that Herman is an upstanding man and a gentleman,” Anderson said. “I have great respect for Herman and his character and I would never speak ill of him, on the record or off the record. That’s true today and it’s not going to change.”
Though he spoke at events today, Cain dodged reporters all day.
The 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner became agitated with reporters as he left a health care event in Virginia. Cain, who did not mention the scandal in his news conference there, refused to answer questions as he was stormed by reporters after the event.
Later in the day, as he was leaving meetings on Capitol Hill, Cain again avoided questions by a throng of reporters, hurriedly getting into his car to head to a private event.
The lawyer for one of the accusers told CNN Tuesday that his client was paid as part of a settlement that resulted from a sexual harassment complaint, contradicting Cain’s claims that the settlement was part of a severance package.
The New York Times reported that a second female employee got a year’s worth of severance pay after she complained that she felt uncomfortable working with Cain, who head the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.
The GOP candidate said Tuesday he only recalled a settlement with one woman – Bennet’s client — and that amounted to about three to six months of severance pay.
ABC News’ Steven Portnoy, Arlette Saenz, Susan Archer and Ariane de Vogue, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.