Presidential Candidate Herman Cain has spent the past two days denying a Politico.com report claiming two women had accused him of improper sexual behavior in the 1990s. Cain commented, "I was falsely accused of sexual harassment and when the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization, I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and my human resources officer to deal with the situation."
Cain got into trouble when he made inconsistent statements to press. He initially told reporters he was unaware of any settlement, but then he acknowledged he did know of a settlement offer made to one of the women. He later told Fox News' Greta van Susteren, "Maybe three month's salary. I don't remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn't pay all of the money they demanded." It's unknown whether the second woman has retained a attorney, or if she has requested to speak publically about the matter. Politico reported both women had received five-figure payouts from the National Restuarant Association to settle the claims. Cain told van Susteren he is unaware of any formal charges brought by a second woman, but that she had evidently alleged an "unwanted sexual advance."
Cain said he knew both women. He recalled that one of them was a writer for the NRA. Cain told van Susteren, "She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying - and I was standing close to her - and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.' And that was put in there as something that made her uncomfortable, something that was in the sexual harassment charge." Cain also boasts that the allegations were given a "thorough" investigation by association's general counsel and human resources chief, and that he was cleared. Yet, Mary Ose, the retired human resources supervisor at the restaurant association told Politico that she had never even heard of the allegations.
As rumors swirl about sexual harassment allegations against Cain in the 1990's, it remains unclear whether or not the accuser will be able to tell her story. Joel Bennett, attorney for the claimant, says its unlikely she will be speaking to the media any time soon because of a confidentiality agreement she signed as part of a settlement with the NRA. Sources say the NRA is carefully looking at its legal obligations before deciding whether or not to waive the agreement. The New York Times reported that she received $35,000 (one year's salary) in severance pay to leave the organization.
Cain says the bull's-eye on his back is getting bigger but promises there are no other skeletons in his closet. Only time will tell how this situation will impact Cain's favorable status in the polls, but so far supporters are rallying behind him. The campaign released Monday that they had received $400,000 in donations after the allegations surfaced.