Sharon Bialek, left, who at a news conference last week accused presidential… (Timothy A. Clary / Agence…)
The pediatrician who dated Sharon Bialek when the Chicago woman claimed to have been sexually groped by Herman Cain came forward today to support Bialek’s allegations against Cain.
Standing next to Gloria Allred at a hastily called news conference in Shreveport, La., Victor Zuckerman, who said he is a registered Republican, said it was he who suggested Bialek contact Cain for help finding a job. It was also he who suggested Bialek contact Allred for help after they both realized that the man she’d had an unpleasant encounter with in 1997 was a front-runner for president.
FOR THE RECORD: Nov. 15, 12:30 p.m.:
An earlier version of this post misspelled Shreveport as Shrevesport. —
Zuckerman, who dated Bialek when he was going through a divorce, said he paid for Bialek to go to Washington to meet with Cain, who was head of the National Restaurant Assn., the industry’s chief lobbying group. The couple had met Cain during the association’s annual convention in Chicago. Cain, they said, invited them to an exclusive party after the group’s gala dinner, where they had enjoyed chatting with him.
A few months later, when Bialek was let go from her job with the Education Foundation of the restaurant association, Zuckerman suggested she go see Cain. The evening, according to Bialek’s account last week, did not go as planned. In a news conference last week, with Allred at her side, Bialek alleged that Cain stopped the car after dinner, forced his hand up her skirt and tried to pull her head to his crotch.
“I can confirm when she returned, she was upset,” Zuckerman said Monday. “She said something had happened, and that Mr. Cain had touched her in an inappropriate manner. She said she handled it and did not want to discuss it further. I respected her. “
The pair stopped dating a few months later, said Zuckerman, but have remained friends and speak every few months.
When news broke at the end of October that Cain had been the subject of at least two sexual harassment complaints that had been settled for five-figure amounts, Zuckerman asked Bialek if she was one of those accusers.
“She said no,” said Zuckerman, but, he added, “Sharon became livid as she heard Mr. Cain’s response to the accusations. I suggested that if she was going to speak out she should contact Gloria Allred.”
Zuckerman, mindful of the intense scrutiny in a situation like this, preemptively divulged his financial history. He said that due to a series of events out of his control, he had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is current on all his reorganization payments. He also said he has never committed a crime or malpractice, and there are “no actions against me.”
After Bialek’s news conference, the Cain campaign sent out an email detailing some of her financial problems, including bankruptcies. Cain called her “troubled” in his Scottsdale news conference on Wednesday and has said repeatedly that he does not recall meeting her.
“He appears to have adopted a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners approach to women who come forward,” said Allred, “…but I don’t think it’s successful.”
Allred said Bialek could have sought financial compensation for her story, but has not and does not plan to in the future.
In Shrevesport, Allred was challenged by reporters to say whether she was planning other news conferences or had any other accusers in the wings.
“We are not disclosing what our future actions may be,” said Allred. If Cain had not denied the charges, she said, “we wouldn’t be here today. If he wants to end this, let him come clean, that’s all we ask.”
Cain's wife, Gloria, will appear with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Monday evening in the Cain campaign's latest attempt to counter the allegations. Recent polls show the scandal is beginning to take a toll on Cain's standing with Republicans. A new CNN poll showed Cain dropping 9 points from a peak of 25% a month ago, and is in third place now behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.