After watching a woman accuse him Monday of groping her and other inappropriate sexual behavior, “I says ‘well, I know what we got to do,’ because there’s not a ounce of truth in all of these accusations,” Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said early today on ABC TV’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Cain said he’ll be holding a news conference this afternoon in Phoenix to address the allegations.
The candidate was responding to yesterday’s news conference during which Sharon Bialek of Chicago, who once worked for the National Restaurant Association when Cain headed the organization, said that in a 1997 encounter he reached under her skirt and tried to pull her head toward his lap.
Bialek said that after she resisted the alleged advance, Cain took her back to the Washington, D.C., hotel where she was staying.
She is the first woman to come forward publicly with such a charge about the candidate, who for more than a week has been the subject of stories about women who accuse him of sexual harassment. Cain and his aides say he never harassed anyone, even though the restaurant association did reach cash settlements with two of the accusers.
Politico broke the news about such accusations on Oct. 31, with a story about two women (who remain unidentified) who reached settlements with the association. Since then, The Associated Press has reported that a third woman, also unidentified, says Cain harassed her.
Today, the conservative Washington Examiner reports that a “fifth woman [has raised] questions about Cain’s behavior.” Donna Donella of Arlington, Va., said that in 2002 Cain asked her to “help arrange a dinner date for him with a female audience member following a speech he delivered,” the Examiner reports. It adds that Donella and others involved in the speaking event, “were suspicious of Cain’s motives and declined to set up the date. Cain responded, ‘Then you and I can have dinner.’ That’s when two female colleagues intervened and suggested they all go to dinner together, Donella said. Cain exhibited no inappropriate sexual behavior during the dinner … she said.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune writes of Bialek, 50, that “the emerging portrait of Herman Cain’s most recent accuser shows a suburban homemaker with a history of financial and legal troubles, but one who supporters say has the guts to do the right thing.”
Update at 7:50 a.m. ET. Bialek Stands By Her Story:
On the morning TV news shows today, The Associated Press writes, Bialek “stood by her assertion … that Cain had made an inappropriate sexual advance toward her” and said “I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
NPR’s Tamara Keith reported on the latest developments earlier today for Morning Edition.