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Woman Claims Herman Cain Groped Her In 1997

A Chicago woman who used to work for an affiliate of the National Restaurant Association claims that Herman Cain engaged in what would clearly be inappropriate sexual contact when she met him in Washington, D.C. in 1997:

Sharon Bialek, a Chicago woman who worked at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s has come forward to say that Herman Cain sexually harassed her while she was looking for a job. In graphic detail, Bialek described an encounter with Cain that happened in July of 1997 in Washington D.C. that left the woman shaken and embarrassed.

After being let go by the NRA foundation, Bialek, who had met Cain on several occasions during conferences and at a dinner, reached out to Cain to obtain guidance on getting a new job.

During their meeting, Bialek alleges that Cain put his hand under her skirt and reached for her genitals and also pushed her head toward his crotch while they were in a car.

She recalls saying: “This isn’t what I came here for, Mr. Cain.”

The now-GOP presidential candidate responded, according to Bialek, “You want a job, right?”

Immediately following the incident, Bialek, who is a registered Republican, homemaker, and single mom, said that she told her then-boyfriend and another person, according to her lawyer, Gloria Allred. Allred presented the two sworn statements of the people Bialek told at the news conference.

Speaking at a news conference in New York, Bialek said that she spoke out in order “to give a face and a voice to those other women” who chose not to, referring to two women who filed complaints against Cain, but have thus far remained anonymous.

“I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean,” Bialek said. “I implore you, make this right.”

What Bialek is describing here isn’t really sexual harassment, of course, because she was no longer employed by the NRA by the time it occurred. What it could constitute, however, is a case of sexual assault or, at the very least battery. Based on what I’ve been able to determine, it would appear that the statute of limitations on either charge, or any other that could be brought arising out of this incident, has expired as have any civil claim that Bialek could have brought against Cain. Nonetheless, many will ask, legitimately why she did not report the matter when it happened, or why she didn’t press charges. The affidavits corroborating that she told others about the incident do tend to lend some credibility to what she says, but in the end people will either believe her, or they will believe Herman Cain. Not surprisingly, the Cain campaign is denying the charges:

“Just as the country finally begins to refocus on our crippling $15 trillion national debt and the unacceptably high unemployment rate, now activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain,” said spokesman J.D. Gordon.

“All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cain’s bold “9-9-9 Plan,” clear foreign policy vision and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”

It’s going to be hard for Cain to get this story to go away with just a statement through a spokesperson now that there’s a name and a face attached to the accusation. More importantly, there’s this comment from the attorney for another of Cain’s accusers who settled her claims with the NRA:

In an interview after Ms. Bialek’s news conference, Joel P. Bennett, a lawyer for one of Mr. Cain’s anonymous accusers, said that Ms. Bialek’s claims were “very similar” in nature to the incident that occurred between his client and Mr. Cain…

“It corroborates the claim,” Mr. Bennett said of Ms. Bialek’s allegation. Asked whether that meant that Mr. Cain had physically touched his client inappropriately, Mr. Bennett said “I can’t get more specific” but added that “I can say it is corroborating.”

Mr. Bennett also said that a woman named Sharon from Chicago left a message on his answering machine over the weekend saying that she, too, had been the subject of harassment at the hands of Mr. Cain. Mr. Bennett said he called her back to suggest that he could arrange for her to come forward confidentially, but that she said that she would think about it.

As I noted this morning, the involvement of Gloria Allred in this case will cause some people to doubt the credibility of Bialek’s claims, but I’m not sure that it’s fair to judge a client by the fact that she happened to choose a controversial attorney known for seeking the media spotlight. It also depends on how Bialek comes across in public. In the press conference she seemed nervous and read her statement from a copy that she was holding in front of her, which really doesn’t indicate much of anything to me. At some point, I assume she’ll end up on cable being interview by someone and then we’ll see how she comes across. If she’s credible, it’s going to be difficult for Cain to just say “she’s lying” and assume that this story is going to go away. Moreover, if there are any other women out there, the fact that one of them has now come forward may cause others to do the same. For better or worse, this story isn’t going away.

Cain is likely to be benefited somewhat by the fact that the two debates coming up this week are limited to the topics of the economy and foreign policy, at least he won’t have to worry about facing a question from the audience about this issue. The one thing that’s for sure, though, is that this is another week when most of the public exposure he gets in the media is going to be about an alleged sex scandal rather than what he’d rather be talking about. Whether that will have an impact on voters is something we’ll have to wait and see.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Economy . . . jobs . . . specific types of jobs. . . Somehow I think he’ll get a question about this.

    If you want a job it’s 9-9-9. . . and then another 9.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Hey Norm says:

    The accusations have a face now…and she appears to be a member of the cult…Cain is sunk.
    Romney is about as lucky as it gets…and he still can’t break 25%.
    Who’s the next contender in the GOP circus???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Moderator: Like many of your fellow G.O.P. candidates, you advocate less federal regulation in response to the country’s economic ills. Does that include the EEOC? And in your experience do in-house sexual harassment complaint processes obviate the need for such federal intrusions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  4. Janis Gore says:

    Who’s checking this guy’s Facebook accounts?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  5. Terrye says:

    I may not like Gloria Allred, but that does not mean there is no truth to this..Gloria Allred represented Amber Frey when she testified against Scott Peterson in his murder trial. She is a publicity hog, but that does not mean her client is a liar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. mantis says:

    Allred’s involvement does not make the claims any more or less factual, but it does guarantee this story ain’t going away anytime soon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Drew says:

    I’ve always said, when someone puts his hand up your dress, reaching for your crotch, and then takes his other and pushes your face into his crotch ……distressing you so…………..the first thing you do is ask him to take you back to your hotel (cabs and such not being available in Chicago) ………….and then not bring the issue up again until he appears to be a front runner for President more than a decade later.

    Its in the manual, right??

    Can you say “scripted??”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  8. @Drew:

    This happened in D.C., not Chicago and, depending where they were and what time it was, getting a cab isn’t always an easy prospect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  9. Janis Gore says:

    @Drew: Didn’t bring it up again until he was denying similar reports from other women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The only way in which this GOP primary could become more of an abject farce is if Palin were to recant her decision not to run and then to show up on the stump wearing a garter and stockings and a bodice.

    More to the point, the fact that Cain is considered a serious candidate by a material percentage of the selectorate for one of the two major parties augurs ill for the future. If America were a stock I’d probably short sell it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  11. Hey Norm says:

    You have to feel kind of bad for Cain…he isn’t even serious about running for President…just trying to hawk some books…maybe get a cush gig on FOX News preaching to the choir…and then he walked into a Category 4 shit-storm. After this the Koch Bros might not even talk to him anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  12. Scott F. says:

    Once again, it’s too bad Cain will be rejected for this, but not for his asinine policy ideas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  13. PJ says:

    Part of me is starting to think that this is a plan by Republicans. Run or elect incompetent or morally fallen black candidates or chairmen and hope that it will taint how people view Obama.

    I mean. Michael Steele…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  14. Drew says:

    “This happened in D.C., not Chicago and, depending where they were and what time it was, getting a cab isn’t always an easy prospect.”

    OK, replace Wash with Chicago. I’ve been to Wash 10 times. Please, especially the women…………get out of the car, or get a cab?

    Long. long time ago, I was in college and had an apartment across the river from where the college was located. One night – heh, after some partying, I was walking across said river. Car pulls up and asks if I want a ride. (stupid) I take it. Guy wants to know if I’ve been partyinging……….and guess what, its clear he’s not legit.

    I turn to him and tell him if he doesn’t pull the car over and let me out immediately, I’ll kill his effing ass with my bare hands. Guess what. He pulls over, and is out of there like a scared rabbit.

    Predators are generally scared as shit. This women’s story should have been “I threatened his very life.”

    Noy buying it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:
    There are a lot of parts of DC where I wouldn’t get the hell out of a car, either.

    He jumps her, she gets him to stop, she says drive me back to the hotel. It’s a perfectly logical sequence of events.

    Really not seeing your problem with this, Drew, aside from your tender belief in the unquestioned virtue of anyone with a few million dollars in the bank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  16. Janis Gore says:

    And it’s moving goalposts. “I won’t believe these women because they won’t come forward.” A woman with a name and a description of an incident come forward. “I won’t believe this woman because it sounds too much like those other incidents.”

    Oh. Okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  17. @Drew: @michael reynolds:

    If you’re a woman in your 20s or 30s (I’m unclear how old she was when this happened, and it really doesn’t matter) in a car with a powerful man in a city you’re unfamiliar with, getting out of the car and searching for a cab may not be the most rational thing to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  18. tyndon clusters says:

    Hmmm, I think this liberal is gonna have to reassess the Repubs “kink” factor.

    First Palin is chasing the “long” charms of a black NBA player, now Cain is chasing the “white tail. And none of this has freaked out the freaks on the right.

    My, my the Repubs have come along way since Reagan’s speech at Philadelphia MS at the start of his campaign after being nominated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    He jumps her, she gets him to stop, she says drive me back to the hotel. It’s a perfectly logical sequence of events.

    Or she jumps him and he refuses like the gentleman that everyone that I have seen talk about him including women that he worked with for years and he turned her skanky a$$ down…Hell hath no furry like woman who got rejected, and is a psycho…

    Another logical sequence of events….

    Who the hells knows anything about any of this garbage?

    All I have seen so far is the guards and dogs chasing down and trying everything they can to catch one of the more successful runaway slaves who has escaped the plantation…well, truth be told, I have only seen one of the dogs…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 19

  20. MM says:

    @Drew:

    Predators are generally scared as shit. This women’s story should have been “I threatened his very life.”

    Noy buying it.

    So the only way that she would be credible would be to act like an internet tough guy? Look, if someone tried to offer me a job in exchange for a “job”, I don;t know what I would do. I may or may not punch them or report them or hire an attorney. But if 10 years from now, that person were on a national stage saying that he/she had never sexually harassed someone, I would probably stand up and call that person a liar as publicly as I could.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  21. jukeboxgrad says:

    What I find interesting is how Cain is digging himself a deeper hole by being stubborn and evasive.

    He knew the Politico article was coming 10 days in advance. He had plenty of time to prepare a statement like this: ‘yes, I did some things I now regret, and I’m sorry; my gestures were misinterpreted, but what I did was still wrong, and I learned from the experience.’

    If he had done that, Sharon Bialek probably would have felt fine about letting it go. It’s probably his arrogance that convinced her she needed to speak.

    So it’s not just his bad behavior in the past. It’s his poor judgment in the way he’s handling the situation now. He’s not smart enough to realize that the way he’s handling it is ultimately self-destructive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  22. Loviatar says:

    Wow, tribalism really trumps all for these guys. A woman comes forward from their own tribe (fellow Republican) and claims that one of their leaders attacked her and all they can do is slander her because she went against the tribe.

    Drew:

    I’ve always said, when someone puts his hand up your dress, reaching for your crotch, and then takes his other and pushes your face into his crotch ……distressing you so…………..the first thing you do is ask him to take you back to your hotel (cabs and such not being available in Chicago) ………….and then not bring the issue up again until he appears to be a front runner for President more than a decade later.

    Its in the manual, right??

    Can you say “scripted??”

    G.A.Phillips:

    Or she jumps him and he refuses like the gentleman that everyone that I have seen talk about him including women that he worked with for years and he turned her skanky a$$ down…Hell hath no furry like woman who got rejected, and is a psycho…

    I feel sorry for your female relatives, god help them if they ever turn to either of you for support after a similar situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    He’s a political naif, inexperienced, utterly ignorant and too arrogant to hire a campaign manager with any sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  24. PD Shaw says:

    @Drew: I’m not really seeing your issue here either. She’s not giving me the impression that Cain is a violent thug for which escape is the only option; it sounds to me like she felt/thought she could control the situation and get back to her hotel by just saying “no.” He drove her back, so that impression isn’t inaccurate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    I feel sorry for your female relatives, god help them if they ever turn to either of you for support after a similar situation.

    What a brilliant deduction. Yes, we should let the liberals rule the world, they are so freaking smart!!!!

    They know everything about freaking everything!!!!!!

    Wow, tribalism really trumps all for these guys. A woman comes forward from their own tribe (fellow Republican) and claims that one of their leaders attacked her and all they can do is slander her because she went against the tribe.

    lol…..THE ******* IRONEY!!!!!

    Any of you wise men know how I can make capitol freaking stars?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Drew:

    Drew, let me be the first to call BullSh*t on your story. This never happened. You got f’d up the ass that night, didn’t you? Either that or it never happened. I lived in the hood for years. I could curl your hair with a few tales.

    I turn to him and tell him if he doesn’t pull the car over and let me out immediately, I’ll kill his effing ass with my bare hands. Guess what. He pulls over, and is out of there like a scared rabbit.

    Ya know… I was faced with a very similar situation when i was 16. You know what I did?

    I turned to him and said, “This is where I am going.” And he let me off there.

    Drew, you never been to the hood, have you? You never had a man’s hand on your thigh, have you? You never looked down and saw …. never mind. You file tax returns on 7 figure incomes… Don’t you?

    Shut the F’ up. You don’t know half of what you claim to know and I am far more knowledge about these things than you can dream of..

    Stop pretending to have personal knowledge of things you read about in a book or two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    He knew the Politico article was coming 10 days in advance.

    Maybe its all ******* ******** ? But no all you OTB occupiers want the tell the past just like the rest of the bizarro crystal ball gazers…

    lol, and everyone always needs to make apologies in your reprobate fantasies for offences against your highly suspect sensibilities….

    Like that would do any good. hahahaha….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    “I won’t believe this woman because it sounds too much like those other incidents.”

    SOUNDS LIKE WHAT? Good golly……………….sounds like somebody got paid and like somebody didn’t…..

    And the way Harry is looking at me is giving me an uncomfortable feeling like I am gonna need 50k or so to make the nightmare go away…..:)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  29. Janis Gore says:

    Go on insulting women, G.A. That’ll surely keep your sheets warm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  30. Rick Almeida says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    Are you using drugs again? You’re making less sense than usual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  31. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Drew: “For those who believe, no proof in necessary, fot those who don’t no proof is possible.”

    At least we know which side your on now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  32. anjin-san says:

    So the right is going with “the bitch is lying”?

    That’s right up there with “she wanted it”.

    I get the sense these cats have very little experience with, and very little love for women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  33. BleevK says:

    @G.A.Phillips: got rejected too many times kiddo?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:
    What’s impressive about this woman’s “lies” is that she had the foresight 10 years ago to tell the story to two other people who have now corroborated that at least her story is consistent over time. I suspect her of time travel.

    It’s much like when Obama traveled back in time to plant an announcement of his birth in a Hawaii newspaper.

    I don’t see how the right can win when their enemies are capable of time travel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  35. A voice from another precinct says:

    @michael reynolds: “I don’t see how the right can win when their enemies are capable of time travel. ‘

    Because their hearts are pure?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  36. Janis Gore says:

    There’s a certain kind of “power trip” where the powerful person would never carry through. That sort of person just likes to watch the powerless writhe.

    Yeah, you can do that sort of thing and consider yourself “pure of heart.” Common epithets are too small to account for them, but “asshole” will do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  37. Kylopod says:

    >A woman comes forward from their own tribe (fellow Republican) and claims that one of their leaders attacked her and all they can do is slander her because she went against the tribe.

    Yes. Remember when similar charges were brought against President Clinton? I don’t recall all this commentary–from either side–about how sexual harassment doesn’t exist. In fact, the charges against Clinton helped launch the career of a certain Ms. Coulter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  38. G.A.Phillips says:

    Go on insulting women, G.A. That’ll surely keep your sheets warm.

    I use a blanket not women….lol…. Sorry I lost my place, I forgot only liberals have pure enough hearts as to be able to insult women and black guys….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  39. sam says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    I use a blanket not women

    And he’s got the arrest record for blanket abuse to prove it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  40. Neil Hudelson says:

    I use a blanket not women

    We all kind of assumed that, buddy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  41. bandit says:

    Run or elect incompetent or morally fallen black candidates or chairmen and hope that it will taint how people view Obama.

    Like the sun rising in the East you can count on libs projecting racist ignorance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2