We learned a week ago about two women who worked at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment. After several contradictory responses, Cain denied the accuracy of the allegations.
Soon after, a third woman described behavior from Cain that she considered “aggressive and unwanted,” including a “private invitation to his corporate apartment.”
But the public did not see or hear from any of these women directly. That changed this afternoon when a fourth alleged victim held a press conference.
Sharon Bialek, a former employee of the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation and a registered Republican, told reporters Monday that Cain treated her inappropriately in 1997 when she was no longer in the organization but was approaching Cain for advice.
At a press conference hosted by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, Bialek described an incident after dinner in 1997 in Washington DC when she said Cain reached up her skirt and tried to force her head to his crotch while the pair were in Cain’s car.
The Republican presidential candidate has denied these allegations, describing them as “false.”
As Bialek describes the events, Cain said, “You wanted a job, right?” when he made these sexual advances.
There are lawyers who can speak to this better than I can, but these allegations would seem to go well beyond sexual harassment, and sound more like sexual assault.
Also note, Bialek said she told her then-boyfriend and another longtime friend about the incident when it occurred, and sworn statements from those men would appear to lend additional credibility to the claim.
At today’s press conference, Bialek challenged Cain: “Come clean.”
I’m not in a position to evaluate the merit of the claims against Cain. I would note, however, that (a) the number of accusers matters; (b) it seems unlikely all four are part of a coordinated, 15-year campaign organized by the media, liberals, racists, the D.C. establishment, and Rick Perry.