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Herman Cain accuser wants to talk, her lawyer says

November 01, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • Herman Cain wipes his eye while speaking to the National Press Club.
Herman Cain wipes his eye while speaking to the National Press Club. (Jason Reed / Reuters )

One of Herman Cain’s accusers wants to be heard.

Her lawyer told the Washington Post on Tuesday that she is ready to tell her side of the ongoing saga involving allegations of sexual harassment while Cain was head of the National Restaurant Assn. in the late 1990s.

But, the lawyer, Joel Bennett, said the woman remains bound by the confidentiality agreement she signed as part of a settlement of her claim with the association.

“It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett told the Post. “The National Restaurant Assn. ought to release them and allow them to respond.”

In an appearance Tuesday evening on Fox News Channel, Cain demurred when asked whether the woman should be given a chance to provide her version of events.

“There are legal implications if the restaurant association waives that. I just found out about this today -- there are legal implications" he said, adding that "we can't answer that right now. It's too soon."

Cain was asked on Fox whether he had breached the agreement by discussing the allegations publicly, thus freeing the woman to talk. He said he hadn’t because he had never identified the name of the one woman who’s complaint Cain says he recalls.

The specter of one of his accusers coming forward to challenge Cain’s recollection of events at the association has hovered over the erupting affair even as the candidate has asserted that the claims were “baseless.”

For its part, the association has remained quiet, although it would likely have the power to release the woman from her pledge of confidentiality. Whether Cain could legally object to that would depend on whether he was a party to the agreement.

At any rate, Cain is sure to face questions Wednesday, both at the trade event in northern Virginia and later, as he makes the rounds on Capitol Hill, over whether fairness dictates that his accusers be given a chance to speak.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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