- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2011

A fourth woman has accused Herman Cain of sexually inappropriate behavior when he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association, telling reporters Monday that the Republican presidential candidate slid his hand under her skirt and pulled her head toward his crotch as they sat in a car.

The Cain campaign responded that the new allegation, specified as occurring in Washington in mid-July 1997, was another “bogus” and “completely false” attack.

At a packed news conference at the Friars Club in New York, Sharon Bialek became the first woman to publicly come forward with details of what she claims occurred between her and Mr. Cain - the latest in a series of allegations that threaten to derail the presidential hopes of the surprising Republican front-runner.

Ms. Bialek said she met with Mr. Cain in hopes of regaining her job at the NRA, where she worked from 1996 to 1997 before getting laid off. After dinner and drinks, she said Mr. Cain parked the car they were in a block from the lobbying group’s offices.

“Instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt and reached for my genitals,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said, ‘What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for.’ Mr. Cain said, ‘You want a job, right?’”

She told him to stop and asked him to take her back to her hotel, which he did, Ms. Bialek said.

At the news conference, Ms. Bialek took no questions after reading her statement. But her high-profile feminist attorney, Gloria Allred, stood by her client’s side, emphasizing that Ms. Bialek was a Republican and suggesting that Mr. Cain could be a “serial sexual harasser.”

Criticized for its sloppy handling of the earlier accusations, all made anonymously, the Cain camp blasted out a denial as the conference ended, taking aim at Ms. Allred, well-known for her celebrity clients and controversial causes.

“Just as the country finally begins to refocus on our crippling $15 trillion debt and the unacceptably high unemployment rate, now activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain,” the statement read.

The campaign also tried to shift the conversation, releasing a new online campaign ad where Dean Kleckner, former president of the American Farm Bureau, endorses Mr. Cain for president.

Mr. Cain has been dogged by sexual harassment allegation since Washington-based outlet Politico published a story Oct. 30 that centered on two anonymous women to whom the NRA gave financial agreements after they accused Mr. Cain of sexually inappropriate behavior. The agreements apparently barred the women from telling their side of the story.

Mr. Cain initially said he could not remember either of the complaints being lodged against him or the financial settlements. He later recalled one of the accusations and related settlement, though he maintained the complaints against him were proven to be baseless.

A third anonymous woman told the Associated Press last week that she also was on the receiving end of Mr. Cain’s sexually inappropriate behavior.

Mr. Cain may have dodged a bullet Friday when one of his accusers, speaking through her attorney, said that while she stood by her complaint, she saw “no value in revisiting this matter now.”

On Monday, Mr. Bialek said she never filed a complaint against Mr. Cain because the incident occurred after NRA terminated her. Now she was coming forward to provide “a face and a voice” to the accusers.

“I want you Mr. Cain to come clean,” she said. “Just admit what you did.”

Mr. Cain has been able to weather the political storm so far. A new Insider Advantage poll of likely Republican voters in Iowa, the first caucus state, showed Mr. Cain doubling his closest competitor, Mitt Romney.

But there also were some troubling signs for Mr. Cain. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday that showed his favorability rating slipping nearly 10 points and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed the number of people who viewed him in a negative light had nearly doubled.

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