Sharon Bialek: The Fourth Herman Cain Accuser
Herman Cain had a bad week last week. This week, there are pictures.
On Monday, a fourth woman accused Cain of sexually inappropriate behavior during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. Represented by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, Sharon Bialek was revealed to the media in a live television press conference, putting a name and face to Cain's accusers, who had until Monday remained anonymous. Bialek alleged the following:
She met Cain while employed for an educational offshoot of the National Restaurant Association. After being fired from her job, she called Cain at the suggestion of her boyfriend at the time in the hopes that Cain could assist her in finding new job. Bialek said her boyfriend booked her a room at the Capitol Hilton. When she arrived in July of 1997, she found that she had been given a suite at the hotel. She met Cain in the hotel bar, and he told her that he had been responsible for the nice room. "I upgraded you," he allegedly said.
She said they then went to dinner Italian at an Italian restaurant, where he asked her, "Why are you here?" When she told him about her job search, he said, "I'll look into that." After dinner, he drove her back to the hotel, and offered to show her the National Restaurant Association offices. In the car, Cain put his hand under her skirt and attempted to pull her head towards his crotch. She asked him to back away. "You want a job, right?" she remembers him saying. She asked him to drive her back to his hotel, which he did.
The Cain campaign denied the allegations categorically. "All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone," the statement said. Allred said she had collected sworn statements from Bialek's boyfriend at the time, and another unnamed mentor, testifying to the fact that Bialek had complained in 1997 about the harassment. Bialek said she did not go into detail about the harassment previously because she was embarrassed. Allred said Bialek does not plan to press any charges against Cain, or to profit from selling her story. Allred said she was contacted by Bialek, who wanted to tell her story.
If true, the claims amount to a charge of sexual assault, not simply harassment. Their graphic nature, combined with the fact that the source is on the record, providing television images for the Cain story, will no doubt make the coming week as trying for Cain as last week. On Wednesday evening, Cain is expected to appear at a televised Republican nomination debate in Michigan on CNBC. And there is little doubt that these allegations will continue to hang over every proceeding in the Republican presidential primary.
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