Escorted and represented by legendary discrimination attorney Gloria Allred, Sharon Bialek stepped out into the media’s bright lights to share her story of alleged inappropriate contact from Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain.
Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse Cain of inappropriate conduct, but the first to publicly share her story. Bialek begged Cain to “come clean” about the allegations of harassment that have cropped up in recent weeks. Bialek noted she “wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the other [accusing] women.”
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Bialek says she met Cain while working at the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the Washington-based organization for which Cain served as president from 1996 to 1999. Bialek, whom Allred introduced as a Republican Party supporter, explained that she was unexpectedly laid off from her position with the NRA in 1997. As she had met Cain on numerous occasions, she was comfortable reaching out to Cain for job advice. And that’s when, Bialek alleges, Cain took personal contact too far.
In recalling the 1997 episode that led to the alleged inappropriate sexual conduct, Bialek appeared empowered, almost giddy. She said she first met Herman Cain during the National Restaurant Association’s annual convention in Chicago that year. She was seated next to him at dinners and a luncheon during the association’s national convention, noting that he came off as “incredibly inspirational,” and even asked him jokingly, “When are you running for president?” But the next month, Bialek was unexpectedly let go from the organization. Her boyfriend, a Chicago pediatrician who had also met Cain during at least one of the convention events, suggested reaching out to Cain for job advice. She went through all the proper channels to schedule a D.C. meeting with Cain while she was traveling in the area. After a dinner meeting with Cain, she says he offered to show her the National Restaurant Association’s offices — but that they never made it there.
“Instead of going into the offices,” Bialek said, “he suddenly reached over and put his hand on my leg, under my skirt… He also pushed my head toward his crotch.” When she asked him to stop and drive her back to her hotel, she says he did, “right away.” And that was the last contact the two had until September of this year, when Bialek ran into Cain at a Chicago Tea Party convention. She noted that he remembered who she was, but appeared “uncomfortable.” After the incident, she said she raised no red flags. Since she was unemployed at the time, she didn’t file a workplace complaint, and confided only in her boyfriend and another male friend.
She says she has no plans to file a lawsuit or any other claim, but indeed the allegations of abuse are demanding answers from Cain’s camp. They continue to deny all allegations, issuing a statement Monday afternoon reading, “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are false.”
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