Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, got through most of last week with some success (following allegations of sexual abuse) largely because his accusers kept quiet.
On Monday, however, Cain faced a new set of political challenges, after an ex-employee of the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) educational foundation accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior 14 years ago. The Chicago woman told reporters that her encounter with Cain in 1997 was tawdry and aggressive.
I am coming forward now to give a face and a voice to those women who cannot or do not wish to come forward, said Sharon Bialek, at a nationally televised news conference.
The allegations from the middle-aged single mother threw Cain's campaign into turmoil, when she described how he allegedly sexually harassed her while they were in sitting in a car in Washington discussing her job prospects. During the time of the alleged incident, Bialek said she had lost her job at the NRA and was looking to Cain to help her find work.
He suddenly reached over and put his hand on my leg, under my skirt and reached for my genitals, Bialek alleged, He also pushed my head toward his crotch.
When Bialek asked him what he was doing, Cain reportedly said: You want a job, don't you?
I was very surprised and shocked, said Bialek, choking up as she spoke to reporters at a news conference in Manhattan, I said, 'What are you doing? You know, I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for.'?
Cain's representatives denied earlier allegations and called them completely false. They issued a similar response to Bialek's claims.
All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false, said J.D. Gordon, a Cain spokesman, Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone.
When the allegations first surfaced, Cain went on national television to defend himself but wound up giving contradictory comments.
He accepted the trade group had made a payment to one of the accusers but later denied any money had changed hands. However the trade association confirmed there was indeed a monetary settlement with a woman and released her from a previously signed privacy agreement. As it turned out, the woman's lawyer, Joel Bennett, said his client had decided not to speak publicly.
Cain and his associates have blamed a number of other individuals and organizations, ranging from the media to Republican rival Rick Perry and even the Liberals, for his current problems. Worse still, while the earlier allegations did not provoke Cain's supporters too much, Bialek's statements seems to have raised doubts.
Robert Haugen, an investment research firm owner in Colorado, donated $1,000 to Cain's campaign. In an article in the Washington Post following Monday's allegations, he was quoted as saying that all these allegations made him a little less supportive of Cain.
I suspect he's being dishonest, and I don't want that in a president, Haugen said, The dishonesty bothers me more than the sexual aggressiveness.