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article imageOp-Ed: Herman Cain's house of cards is falling down

By Joan Firstenberg     Nov 5, 2011 in Politics
New York - GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain is probably at a crossroads in his career now. Not only has the National Restaurant Association confirmed he was accused of sexually abusing two employees, but one accuser confirms it in writing, as well.
All the bluffing and innuendos aside, some facts are beginning to filter through about GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain. And they are certainly not pretty. Politico reports that two statements have been issued, one from an accuser, and another from the National Restaurant Association. Both are dramatically different from what we have heard so far from Cain.
On Friday afternoon, Attorney Joel Bennett issued a statement from one of the women accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s. Bennett points out that she stands by her complaint, and confirms that it consisted of a "series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances" from Cain. Here's Bennett's recitation of what she told him.
In 1999 I was retained by a female employee of the National Restaurant Association concerning several instances of sexual harassment by the then CEO. She made a complaint in good faith about a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances from the CEO. Those complaints were resolved in an agreement with her acceptance of a monetary settlement. She and her husband see no value in revisiting this matter now, nor in discussing this matter further, publicly or privately. In fact it would be extremely painful to do so. She is grateful that she was able to return to her government career, where she is extremely happy serving the American people to the best of her ability. She looks forward to continuing to work hard for them as we face the significant challenges that lie ahead. She wishes to thank the media for the restraint that they have shown, her family – especially her sisters – for their love and support, her colleagues and supervisors for their patience and forbearance and her advisors for their wise counsel, and most of all, her dear husband of 26 years for standing by her and putting up with all of this. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. Sexual harassment is unfortunately very much alive and with us even today, and women must fight it in all kinds of workplaces and at all levels. My client stands by the complaint she made.
On Friday, Dawn Sweeney, the current CEO of the National Restaurant Association announced the NRA had waived the confidentiality restrictions to allow Cain's accuser to speak through her lawyer and confirmed that her complaint had been filed against Cain:
“We have seen the statement Joel Bennett released earlier today on behalf of his client, a former employee of the Association. The Association consented to the release of that statement, at the request of Mr. Bennett’s client. 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. 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. The agreement contains mutual confidentiality obligations. Notwithstanding the Association’s ongoing policy of maintaining the privacy of all personnel matters, we have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett’s client to comment. As indicated in Mr. Bennett’s statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter and we will respect her decision. The Association has robust policies designed to ensure that employees with concerns may bring them forward for prompt investigation and resolution, without risk of retaliation. The Association is fully committed to equal employment opportunity and to an environment that is free from any discrimination or harassment.”
The victim's lawyer, Bennett, also revealed Friday that his client's settlement was dated in September 1999 and was signed by the trade group's general counsel, but not Cain. Cain had already left the organization by then, before his three-year term was up. Bennett says it is very important to note that the settlement was signed by the restaurant association's counsel, Peter Kilgore, since it illustrates just how central he is in the allegations against Cain. Politico reports that Kilgore was notified by an association board member about the claim by a second woman that Cain made a sexual overture to her and sources say Kilgore also looked into this second woman's charges.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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