NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Big Apple was once again the center of the Republican political universe Monday.
Attorney Gloria Allred held a news conference here with Sharon Bialek, who alleged that GOP presidential contender Herman Cain reached for her genitals and pulled her head towards his crotch in July 1997.
Sharon Bialek says that, when she asked Cain what he was doing, Cain said, “You want a job, right?”
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It’s the first time an accuser has gone public with allegations against Cain.
“Our client is very brave to have come forward. She could have attempted to sell her story but chose not to do so,” Allred said. “She knows that by stepping out into the light that she will face public scrutiny. We applaud her for her courage.”
Bialek charges that Cain harassed her during his tenure as chief executive of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), when she sought help from him with an employment issue.
Already, three former NRA employees have reported that they were harassed by Cain at the restaurant lobbying group; two of the women filed formal complaints and reached settlement agreements with the NRA.
Allred is known for taking on high-profile clients. Last year, she represented Nicky Diaz Santillan, the housekeeper that California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman fired because of her immigration status.
Cain has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has called the accusations a “smear campaign.”
His campaign addressed the latest allegations calling them “completely false.”
The campaign added that Cain “has never harassed anyone” and called Bialek’s claims “bogus attacks.”
The allegations have rocked Cain’s unorthodox presidential campaign just as he was riding high in public opinion polls two months before the leadoff Iowa presidential caucuses. He has emerged in national and state surveys as the leading conservative challenger to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination — adding unpredictability to a race already as volatile as any in recent memory.
What do you make of the allegations? Are they part of a smear campaign?