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Restaurant group to respond Friday to Cain accuser request

November 03, 2011|By Tom Hamburger
  • Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain addresses the congressional healthcare caucus during a visit to Capitol Hill.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain addresses the congressional… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

The National Restaurant Assn., the trade group at the center of the Herman Cain sexual harassment furor, said it has received a request to allow one of Cain's accusers to release a public statement detailing her version of events and will respond Friday.

The group was contacted by Joel Bennett, a Washington lawyer who helped negotiate a settlement with the association on behalf of one of two women who complained about Cain's conduct while he was its president and chief executive. Bennett has been seeking to lift a restriction in the deal that bars his client from talking.

“Our outside counsel was contacted by Mr. Bennett today and was asked to provide a response to a proposed statement by tomorrow afternoon. We are currently reviewing the document, and we plan to respond tomorrow,” said Sue Hensley, a spokeswoman for the association.

Bennett said his client is reluctant to speak publicly about events that occurred while she worked for Cain in the late 1990s, so he has asked the association to instead approve a statement by her for public release.

Cain is not a party to the agreement, Bennett said, meaning that he would only need the consent of the association in order for the statement to be released.

“Mr. Cain was not a signatory to the settlement agreement therefore he would have no standing one way or another” on whether the statement could be released, Bennett said.

Politico reported Thursday that one of the women who accused Cain of sexual harassment during his tenure received a $45,000 settlement. The New York Times had previously reported that a second woman obtained a $35,000 payout.

Cain has demurred when asked whether Bennett's client should be released from her confidentiality agreement and be allowed to tell her story to the media.

Bennett said that if the association approves a waiver to the confidentiality requirements, he would release a one-page statement on behalf of his client. But, he said, he will not divulge her name and said "she does not intend to appear publicly."

By handling it in this fashion, Bennett said that his client can get her side of the story out without becoming an “Anita Hill figure,” a reference to the woman who endured intense scrutiny after publicly alleging inappropriate conduct by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.


tom.hamburger@latimes.com

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