Anna Sale is the host and managing editor of Death, Sex & Money, WNYC’s interview show about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.
Herman Cain Publicly Accused of Unwanted Sexual Advances
Monday, November 07, 2011
Another woman colleague has accused Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of making unwanted sexual advances. Sharon Bialek is the first to publicly come forward and describe an incident in detail.
Bialek worked for the National Restaurant Association's education foundation in Chicago during parts of 1996 and 1997. When she was let go after less than a year, she reached out to then-Association president Herman Cain for help finding a new job.
Bialek, who read from a prepared statement, said the two met for dinner in Washington. In the car afterward, Bialek said Cain reached up her skirt and pulled her head toward his lap.
"I was surprised and shocked and I said, 'What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This is not what I came here for,'" Bialek said she told Cain, who she said responded by saying, "You want a job, right?"
Bialek said did not file a complaint at the time because she no longer worked at the the association's education foundation.
"I am coming forward now to give a face and a voice to those women who cannot or do not wish to come forward, and on behalf of all women in the workplace who are sexually harassed but do not come forward out of fear of retaliation and public humiliation," said Bialek.
Bialek said she was moved to come forward when she heard of other allegations. She does not plan to file a lawsuit and only wants Cain to acknowledge his past behavior.
"I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean. Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people," Bialek said, standing alongside celebrity attorney Gloria Allred at a packed press conference at the Friar's Club in New York.
At least three other women have accused Cain of sexual harassment, two of whom filed sexual harassment with the National Restaurant Association. They have not been publicly identified.
The Cain campaign immediately released a statement denying Bialek’s account and questioned her credibility. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false,” it read. “Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone.”
In a separate statement, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon called Bialek "a woman with a long history of financial difficulties." When Allred was asked about Bialek's current employment situation on Monday, she described her as a "full-time single mom."
With no legal process pending, it will be up to voters to decide who they believe is telling the truth. Cain is scheduled to address the accusations Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix. In a series of interviews on morning talk shows on Tuesday, Bialek defended her motives, saying she had "nothing to gain" by coming forward.
"It's not about me. I'm not running for president," Bialek said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.