WASHINGTON â€” A new accuser came forward Monday to assert that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain groped her in a car 14 years ago while Cain was the head of a Washington trade group.
The allegations are the most explicit to have been made public, and marks the first time one of Cainâ€™s accusers has identified herself.
At a news conference in New York, Sharon Bialek, a former employee of the National Restaurant Association, said she had sought Cainâ€™s help in finding a new job after the association had fired her. Instead, Bialek said, Cain, while the two were seated in a parked car, reached under her skirt and also attempted to move her head toward his crotch.
The Cain campaign immediately responded, according to CNN, calling Bialekâ€™s accusation â€œfalseâ€ but did not provide specifics.
The woman is apparently the fourth to accuse Cain of sexually inappropriate conduct during the time Cain was president and chief executive officer of the association in the late 1990s. She said she did not file a complaint after the incident in July 1997 because she was no longer working for the trade group.
Two of the women reached settlements with the association, agreeing to keep quiet as part of the deal. A third told the Associated Press that she considered filing a complaint, but did not.
Bialek and her high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred, said Bialek worked for the association in 1996 and 1997 in Chicago and had met Cain during the associationâ€™s convention in that city. She had been impressed with Cain, she said, and once her employment was terminated by the group, she went to Washington to seek his help in finding a job.
Cain, she said, upgraded her hotel room to a suite, took her out to dinner, and later, while the two were in a car, made an unwanted sexual advance that she rejected. She said she asked him what he was doing, and that he replied, â€œYou want a job, donâ€™t you?â€
â€œI was very, very surprised and very shocked,â€ Bialek said.
The news conference took place in a packed room in New Yorkâ€™s storied Friarâ€™s Club, the same site where Allred earlier this year held a similar event on behalf of a woman who was caught up in the scandal that brought down New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.
The statute of limitations on any lawsuit has likely expired, meaning that Allred canâ€™t file an action on Bialekâ€™s behalf.
Bialek said she was coming public now â€œto give a face and a voice to those women who cannot or for whatever reason do not wish to come forward and on behalf of all women who are sexually harassed in the workforce but do not come forward out of fear of retaliation and public humiliation.â€
She implored Cain to â€œmake this right so that you and the country can move forward and focus on the real issues.â€
Allred called Bialek a â€œregistered Republican,â€ and Bialek said she approached Cain at a tea party event a month ago, but said Cain did not acknowledge than anything inappropriate occurred between them.