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Lawyer: Cain denial 'inaccurate factually'

Nov. 4, 2011 at 8:58 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- An attorney for a woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment said Friday the Republican U.S. presidential hopeful's denials "are factually inaccurate."

Joel Bennett, who represents the former National Restaurant Association employee who accused Cain of harassment, publicly read a statement on which he and his client collaborated, indicating the woman has decided not to reveal her identity because she "doesn't want to publicly recount her experience with Cain." Bennett says the woman went through multiple encounters with Cain when he was chief executive officer of the restaurant trade group in the late 1990s.

Bennett said Friday Cain engaged in "inappropriate behavior" and "unwanted advances" and the NRA settled the matter with a five-figure cash payout to the woman in 1999, Politico reported.

Cain has denied this week that he harassed Bennett's client.

"Those statements are inaccurate factually," Bennett said Friday.

"Mr. Cain knows the specific incidents that were alleged. My client filed a written complaint in 1999 against him specifically and it had very specific incidents in it and if he chose to not remember or not acknowledge those, that's his issue."

NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney issued a statement Friday confirming the woman "filed a formal internal complaint" and indicating that Cain disputed the allegations.

"The Association and Mr. Bennett's client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability," Sweeney said. "Mr. Cain was not a party to that agreement."

A spokesman for Cain issued a statement Friday, but it did not mention the harassment issue, Politico said.

"We look forward to focusing our attention on the real issues impacting this country, like fixing this broken economy and putting Americans back to work through our '9-9-9' plan, as well as strengthening national security," spokesman J.D. Gordon said.

Politico said Thursday it learned new details made it clear one woman's accusations were discussed among the leaders of the National Restaurant Association within hours of the alleged incident while Cain led the trade group in the 1990s.

At the time of Cain's alleged overture, the woman told two people directly, individuals familiar with the incident told the Washington publication. The sources said the woman also lodged a verbal complaint with a restaurant association board member the same night.

The woman said she "perceived that her job was at risk" if she ignored the overture, one source said.

Politico reported the accusation also was brought to the attention of another board member and the association's general counsel, Peter Kilgore, and both reportedly investigated. The woman left the organization in May 1998 soon after the incident under an agreement that paid her a year's salary that was in the mid-$30,000s, sources said.

Politico said it spoke to at least six sources familiar with different aspects of the woman's story and said this week Cain's campaign did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment on the new details. Kilgore also declined to comment, saying he couldn't discuss personnel matters.

A third woman alleged Cain invited her to his corporate apartment in Crystal City, Va., south of downtown Washington.

Cain has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct. He has called the accusations a news media "witch hunt," a liberal political vendetta and a plot by operatives for Republican rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry to derail his presidential campaign.

He told "The Sean Hannity Show," a nationally syndicated radio program, Thursday he did not flirt with or proposition any women he worked with, calling such charges a "fabrication."

Several news organizations that interviewed association employees and officers who knew Cain at the time he headed the association found conflicting perceptions of Cain.

Some told the Los Angeles Times it was "an open secret" Cain made inappropriate comments -- and sometimes invited female employees to his Washington hotel or corporate apartment.

Other staff members, including Steve Caldeira, the restaurant association's vice president for communications and marketing at the time, said the accusations sounded completely out of character for Cain, the Times said.

More than a dozen former colleagues and board members told The Washington Post any allegations of sexual misconduct were not known throughout the organization.

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