Herman Cain was accused on Monday of sexual harassment by a fourth woman, Sharon Bialek, who told reporters at a news conference alongside her lawyer Gloria Allred that the GOP primary nominee harassed her while she was attempting to get a job. As Nia-Malika Henderson reported:
Sharon Bialek, a Chicago woman who worked at the National Restaurant Association in the mid1990s 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?”
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 “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..”
Even after the first of the sexual harassment allegations were made against Cain, his poll numbers remained high, which has susprised some analysts. Chris Cillizza explained how Cain has survived thus far:
In the intervening week, two more women — including Sharon Bialek who went public with her allegations this afternoon — have come forward while Cain and his senior campaign team have tried without much success to beat back the story.
And, yet, Cain is still standing and, to hear some in conservative circles tell it, prospering in the race. Polling confirms Cain’s surprising strength in the face of these allegations; in a Washington Post-ABC News poll he was in a statistical dead heat with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a 2012 primary matchup.
How is Cain doing it?
In conversations with a handful of Republican strategists as well as an analysis of how past presidential scandals have played out, a few explanations make sense.
1. The women are silent: Up until today’s press conference, none of the women who made these allegations against Cain have been willing to speak out publicly. That silence makes it harder for people to empathize/sympathize with the accusers since they remain in the eyes of the public both faceless and voiceless.
Need an example of how much a woman speaking out can matter? Who could forget Gennifer Flowers’ news conference way back in 1992 alleging an affair with then presidential candidate Bill Clinton? It put a face to a name and made the allegations seem more credible.
2. Cain’s true believers: For months — and even prior to his rise into the top-tier of the Republican presidential field — Cain’s supporters have been among the most passionate and dedicated to their guy. (The only person with more passionate supporters? Dr. Ron Paul.)
Given that level of loyalty, there is a tendency among Cain supporters to be dismissive of what he (and they) have cast as a witch hunt by establishment Republicans and the national news media to bring him down.
At the news conference on Monday, Allred and Bialek left the room in response to a disruptive writer’s antics. They returned after the offending journalist had left. As Melissa Bell reported:
For a few minutes, it looked as if Herman Cain might have gotten an assist from Howard Stern’s staff in quelling the story about allegations that he had sexually harassed women.
Moments before a press conference was to start in which a fourth woman would accuse the Republican presidential candidate of sexual harassment, Benjy Bronk, a writer for Howard Stern, seemed to scare Sharon Bialek and her attorney Gloria Allred from the conference room with his over-the-top antics.
It was not the first time Bronk disrupted a political press conference. In June, Bronk started a ruckus at Rep. Anthony Weiner’s press conference, interrupting other reporters and heckling the congressman. “Will you maintain your hot physique and smooth sexy chest?” he asked.
On Monday, Bronk took the podium before Allred and Bialek appeared, fielding a barrage of questions and rambling on about his own life. When the two women appeared at the door, Bronk announced in a voice reminiscent of a host for the W.W.E. “Herrrrre’s Gloria Allred and the accuser!”
From the conversation on the live feed, it seems that Allred turned around and left the room immediately.
Journalists in the room started swearing at Bronk, as he asked to take a vote on whether or not he could stay. He left, but it took some minutes before Allred returned, with the press asking in bewildered voices, “Did someone tell her he was gone?”
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