Sharon Bialek attends a news conference to accuse Republican presidential… (Spencer Platt/GETTY IMAGES )
Sharon Bialek, a Chicago woman who worked at the National Restaurant Association in the mid-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. The NRA confirmed on Monday afternoon that Bialek had worked for its education foundation from December 1996 to June 1997.
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?”
Cain’s campaign, which has been trying to redirect the focus from sexual harassment and has denied all of the allegations, released this statement:
“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 Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon in the statement.
“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.”
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.”
Before Monday’s allegations came to light, three other women alleged sexual harassment against Cain — two received settlements and one thought about filing a complaint, but did not, according to an Associated Press report.
Joel P. Bennett, who represented another woman who issued a statement last week saying she was a victim of serial sexual harassment by Cain, said the similarities between his client and Bialek were remarkable. Bennett has never revealed the details of the sexual harassment of his client, who has gone on to have a successful career in the federal government.
“The conduct is similar,” Bennett said. Asked which conduct, he said, “I can’t get more specific. But I consider it corroborating evidence. It is similar conduct by the same person.”
Had his case with his client gone forward, Bennett said Bialek could have been used as a witness in his case. “I certainly would have tried to because it is similar conduct by the same person.”
Bennett said that he believes Bialek is the same woman who called his office last Tuesday or Wednesday and said she wanted to go public. When he returned a message from his voice mail the next day, she had changed her mind. She had said her name was Sharon, had a Chicago area code, and worked for the NRA’s foundation office in Chicago.
Allred, a Los Angeles lawyer, has been involved in several high-profile cases involving politicians. She represented Nicandra Diaz Santillan, a housekeeper for Meg Whitman, who claimed that the gubernatorial candidate fired her after learning that she was undocumented. She also represented two of the women who claimed to have had dalliances with golfer Tiger Woods, and porn star Ginger Lee, who alleged that ex-congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told her to lie about his online activity.
“If all of these allegations ... are true, then I for one am disgusted at Mr. Cain’s serial sexual harassment of women,” Allred said at Monday’s press conference with Bialek. “Mr. Cain ...while running for president, is actively lying to Americans ... it is time to hold politicians to a higher standard ... we need to know the truth about those who are running for office.”
The National Restaurant Association released a statement Friday confirming that over a decade ago, a female employee filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against then-association head Cain.