A lawyer representing one of the women who accused GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s released a statement Friday after receiving approval from the National Restaurant Association. Despite the association’s permission for her to speak candidly, the statement did not include details about the allegations.
Attorney Joel Bennett, who represents one of the two women who filed complaints while Cain was the association’s CEO, said that the presidential candidate engaged in a “series of inappropriate behaviors,” but that his client “has chosen to not relive the details.”
“Cain knows the specific incidents,” he said. “If he chooses not to remember or not acknowledge those that’s his issue.”
The identities of Cain’s accusers have been withheld by several news organizations which have claimed to have learned their names. Two women received settlements after filing complaints and signed confidentiality agreements. Another unidentified woman claimed anonymously Thursday that she was also sexually harassed, but said she did not pursue a formal complaint.
“We’re not gonna get more specific about what was physical, what was verbal,” Bennett said on behalf of his client. “It qualified as sexual harassment in our opinion.”
National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney released a concurrent statement Friday, confirming that Bennett’s comments had been pre-approved, but also noting that they could’ve gone further.
“We have seen the statement Joel Bennett released earlier today on behalf of his client, a former employee of the Association,” Sweeney said. “The Association consented to the release of that statement, at the request of Mr. Bennett’s client.” (RELATED: News organizations continue to protect identities of Cain’s accusers)
“Based upon the information currently available, we can confirm that more than a decade ago, in July 1999, Mr. Bennett’s client filed a formal internal complaint, in accordance with the Association’s existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment,” Sweeney continued. “Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint. The Association and Mr. Bennett’s client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability. Mr. Cain was not a party to that agreement.”
Sweeney further explained that the restaurant association was willing to allow the woman to more fully describe her allegations against Cain, but she declined.
“We have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett’s client to comment,” Sweeney wrote. “As indicated in Mr. Bennett’s statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter and we will respect her decision.”
Bennett’s client reportedly received a $45,000 settlement from the restaurant association, whereas Cain’s other unidentified accuser reportedly received $35,000.
Cain’s campaign has doggedly denied the allegations, complaining that Politico, the news organization whose extensive reporting has fanned the flames of suspicion, operated outside the bounds of journalistic ethics by reporting unsubstantiated, unsourced allegations from anonymous complainants. Politico has so far published 90 articles on the scandal in the past week, The Washington Examiner reported.
Appearing on the Fox News Channel Friday morning, Cain campaign manager Mark Block said that if Politico’s initial article igniting the scandal “was held up to the same standards of the code of ethics for journalism, the people involved with that would be fired.”