*Sharon Bialek of Chicago became the first woman accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment to go public Monday, describing an alleged incident in Washington in 1997 in which the presidential contender, then the president of the National Restaurant Association stuck his hand up her skirt and tried to pull her head toward his crotch.
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’” alleged Bialek, who said she had contacted Cain for help getting a job. “You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for.”
According to Bialek, Cain answered, “You want a job, right?”
Bialek claims that after the incident she rejoined her boyfriend and told him that Cain had been “sexually inappropriate.” She also said she had confronted Cain recently at a Tea Party event and asked him, “Do you remember me?” and that he had confirmed that he remembered her and “he kind of looked uncomfortable.”
Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon immediately responded with a statement that said, “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone.”
Bialek appeared with attorney Gloria Allred at a press conference at New York’s Friars Club. Two other women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Cain while he helmed the NRA, but neither has spoken publicly. On Friday, Joel Bennett, an attorney for one of the first two accusers said she would decline to come forward and discuss the case further. On Monday, Bennett described Bialek’s story to ABC News as “similar conduct and corroborating evidence.”
According to the Associated Press, a third woman also alleges sexual harassment by Cain while working at the trade group, but said did not file an internal complaint because one of her coworkers had already done so.
Allred described Bialek as a Republican and the single mother of a 13-year-old who had worked for an educational branch of the National Restaurant Association in Chicago between 1996 and 1997. The NRA confirms that Bialek worked for the trade group from December 1996 to June 1997.
According to Bialek, she had first met Cain at an NRA event in Chicago in 1997, and then arranged to meet with him in Washington shortly thereafter when she found herself out of a job.
When she arrived in Washington, Bialek claimed, her hotel room had been upgraded. Cain “smirked” and told her he had arranged it.
After drinks and dinner, when they were in Cain’s car, she said, “He put his hand on my leg and reached for his genitals. He brought my head toward his crotch.” When she protested, said Bialek, Cain agreed to take her back to her hotel.
Bialek said she had come forward “to give a face to those women who cannot, and on behalf of all women who are harrassed and don’t come forward out of fear.” She said she did not file a complaint at the time because she was not employed.
She said that at the Tea Party event, which was before Politico published a story revealing that two women had accused Cain of sexual harassment, “I kept wondering to myself, has he done to other woman, women, what he had done to me. And whether anyone was going to speak up about it. I really hoped for his sake, that — and his candidacy, that mine was not — that mine was an isolated incident.”
“I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean,” said Bialek. “Just admit what you did. Mr. Cain, I implore you to make this right so we can move forward.”
Cain has denied the previous allegations of sexual harassment, and has charged the presidential campaign of Texas governor Rick Perry with leaking the story. Perry’s campaign denies any involvement, which surfaced in Politico more than a week ago.