*The fourth woman who has accused Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain of groping her 14 years ago is denying claims that she is trying to benefit financially from coming forward.
Sharon Bialek, a single mother from Chicago, announced her allegations Monday, more than a decade after the alleged harassment occurred. During a car ride in July 1997, she claims, Cain put his hand up her skirt, reached for her genitals and then grabbed her head and pulled it toward his crotch. She is the fourth woman to claim sexual harassment by Cain during his time at the National Restaurant Association, although the other three women have remained anonymous.
The Cain campaign fired back, calling Bialek “a woman with a long history of severe financial difficulties including personal bankruptcy.’’
This morning, she appeared on “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “The Early Show” with her attorney, Gloria Allred, to continue telling her story.
Bialek has twice filed for personal bankruptcy, but told Ann Curry she isn’t benefiting financially from these claims.
“Absolutely not,’’ Bialek told Curry. “There were no skeletons in my closet. I told (Allred) that this may come up. I expected this. This is what happens.’’
“It’s important to know that she could’ve sold her story,’’ Allred said. “She didn’t, though.’’
She did wait 14 years to reveal her story, however, and did not file a complaint at the time the alleged incident occurred. “There’s a variety of reasons,” Bialek said about going public now. “When this happened, the first reaction is, you’re embarrassed. Number 2, I had a boyfriend at the time. We did discuss it briefly, but we didn’t share details. He did say, ‘It’s going to be one of those he-said, she-said things.’
“You’ve got to remember this is the late ‘90s, (and) unfortunately we’re still not where we should be in these types of cases.’’ [Watch full “Today” appearance below.]
In a separate interview Tuesday morning, Bialek said she’s come forward now “because I wanted to help” Cain. “I wanted to give him a platform to come clean, to tell the truth,” she told CBS’s “The Early Show.” “And he still hasn’t done it and it’s really a shame because he could have.”
Asked if she would consider voting for Cain if he came clean, Bialek did not rule it out.
“I’d have to think about that. I hope that he does and I’d have to think about that one,” she told CBS. [Watch full “Early Show” appearance below.]
At the time of the alleged act, Bialek had just been let go from an educational foundation tied to the National Restaurant Association. She said she was seeking Cain’s help. After his alleged advance on her in the car, she claims he said to her, “You want a job, right?’’
“Instead of receiving the help that she had hoped for, Mr. Cain decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package,’’ Allred quipped to “Today.”
As previously reported, Cain swung back in an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live’’ early Tuesday. He is expected to further address the claims at a press conference in Phoenix later Tuesday.
“All things considered, I’m still alive,’’ Cain told Kimmel. “The feeling that you have when you know that all of this is totally fabricated, you go from anger, you get disgusted, because there’s not an ounce of truth in all these accusations.’’
“I think maybe Mr. Cain’s definition of harassment might be different,’’ Bialek told Curry. “Maybe he doesn’t feel he harassed them.’’
Cain’s campaign also believes that Bialek was coerced into telling her story by a rival camp, as Allred is a generous donor to the Democratic Party who has taken cases involved in political races before. In 2009, Allred represented an illegal immigrant who worked for Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor of California. After the woman’s story was revealed, Whitman lost the election by a wide margin. But Allred denied the Cain campaign’s claims.
“Absolutely not, because the last big news conference I did in New York was against Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner,’’ Allred said. “My client said that he should resign (and) that he had sent her sexual messages. I’ve also criticized President Clinton when he lied to the American public.
“If a man commits an injustice against a woman, sexual harassment, which by the way is no joke although apparently Herman Cain wants to make it a laughing matter, then I am going to speak out against them if they are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or no party at all.’’
Two other women who worked with Cain at the National Restaurant Association filed formal sexual harassment claims. Bialek claims wants to put a public face to the allegations, and asked Cain to “come clean’’ at a news conference announcing her allegations.
“The real question is, ‘Should the public believe the word of four different women, two of whom filed claims of sexual harassment and received settlements for them, or the word of one man who had the motive to deny?’’ Allred said.
Click here to watch Sharon Biialek’s appearance on “Good Morning America.”