Herman Cain speaks Monday at the National Press Club. (Win McNamee / Getty Images )
An attorney for a former employee of the National Restaurant Assn. affirmed today his client filed a written complaint against Herman Cain in 1999 for "a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances."
Joel Bennett, whose client is one of two women that lodged written sexual harassment complaints against Cain during his three-year tenure leading the group, did not identify the woman. He said she felt "there is no value of revisiting the matter now or discussing it further publicly or privately. In fact, it is extremely painful to do so."
Bennett declined to provide specifics of the complaint, but he did reveal new details to the story that has roiled the Cain campaign this week -- most notably, that there were multiple incidents "over a period of time at least a month or two" that prompted a monetary settlement, and that the woman was married at the time (and still is).
The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement. But Bennett's client sought release from that provision this week, after Cain dismissed the sexual harassment complaints -- first reported Sunday by Politico -- as untrue.
"[Cain] has generally said these complaints were baseless, that [he] did not engage in sexual harassment," Bennett said. "My client felt she wanted to respond to those statements in a prudent way. Her position is that it's most prudent to do it this way rather than exposing herself personally."
Soon after Bennett's press conference, the association released a comment from Chief Executive Dawn Sweeney, affirming the group's consent to the release of Bennett's statement.
"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," Sweeney said. "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."
"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," Sweeney added. "The Association is fully committed to equal employment opportunity and to an environment that is free from any discrimination or harassment."