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Herman Cain's accusers may band together at news conference

November 08, 2011|By Tom Hamburger and Robin Abcarian
(AP Photo/APTN )

The women whose complaints Herman Cain attacked in a news conference Tuesday are planning to counter with a news conference of their own, attorneys for the women said Tuesday night.

"My client has decided to hold a joint news conference with as many of the women who complained of sexual harassment by Herman Cain as will participate," said Joel P. Bennett, the Washington lawyer for Karen Kraushaar, whose harassment claims against Cain got the current controversy rolling after a report of it appeared last week in Politico.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cain called a news conference in Arizona to address several additional allegations of sexual harassment that have surfaced since the initial article appeared. The allegations have immediately pulled the spotlight away from nearly all other topics in the Republican presidential contest.

At the outset of the news conference Tuesday, Cain focused his ire on claims from Sharon Bialek, the Chicago woman who says she was groped by Cain when she met with him in 1997 to ask for help finding a job.

He said when he watched her news conference Monday, he did not even recognize her, and that her account of inappropriate sexual conduct "simply didn't happen."

At one point Cain called the Chicagoan a "troubled woman," claiming that her allegations were put forward by the "Democrat machine."

Kraushaar, 55, sought anonymity at first and her name was not revealed by Politico or in other initial press reports. But she confirmed to several news organizations Tuesday that she was behind the first known sexual harassment  complaint. She works as a communications director in a Treasury Department inspector general's office.

She left her job at the National Restaurant Assn. in 1999 after she complained of harassment by Cain, who was the association's chief executive from 1996 to 1999. At the time, she received a $45,000 settlement from the restaurant group, which agreed to pay the
claim without acknowledging its validity. That period of Cain's biography, when he lived part of each week in Washington without his wife and family, is likely to come under more intense scrutiny.

"We will advise all media in advance of the date, time and location of the conference," Bennett said in the email to The Times, noting that he had already been in contact with Bialek's attorney, Gloria Allred, to discuss the news conference.

Allred confirmed that in an email to The Times: "I said I would recommend it to my client, and I think she would want to participate, but I have no details yet and have not had a chance to discuss it with her," Allred wrote.

tom.hamburger@latimes.com

robin.abcarian@latimes.com

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