Sharon Bialek, a Chicago resident (pictured, far right), announced at a New York press conference hosted by L.A. attorney Gloria Allred this morning that presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed her in 1997. She's a former radio marketing manager and current housewife who met Cain while working for the National Restaurant Association, raising money for its college scholarship program. Allred says Cain conversed with Bialek at dinners, a lunch and an afterparty at the NRA's 1996 convention — one month before she was terminated.
Afterward, she reached out to Cain for help finding another job. “Mr. Cain decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package,” says Allred. Touche. Here's her client's story:
Bialek allegedly asked Cain to join her for a luncheon some months later. Instead, when she arrived at the Capital Hilton in Washington D.C., she found he had booked her a suite. Later that night, they went to dinner at an Italian restaurant.
“Why are you here?” she says Cain asked her. To either get her old job back or possibly find a new one, Bialek answered.
However, when he was driving her past NRA headquarters after dinner, she says he parked the car and ran his hand up her black pleated skirt.
“He also grabbed my head and pulled it toward his crotch,” says Bialek.
When she resisted and reminded him she had a boyfriend, Cain allegedly answered: “You want a job, right?”
Allred says the raunchy behavior shows “that he could care less about the impact of his behavior on these women.” We cannot afford again to elect someone to office that will abuse his power like this, she adds. (Perhaps referencing the alleged Arnold Schwarzenegger victims she fruitlessly represented years ago.)
Allred released the following statement earlier today.
“A woman who alleges that she was sexually harassed by Presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, when she sought his help with an employment issue when he was President of the National Restaurant Association will hold a news conference with her Attorney, Gloria Allred on Monday, November 7th, at 1:30 p.m. (e.s.t.) at the Friars Club, 57 East 55th Street New York, NY 10022.
The woman is not one of the three women who have previously been reported to have alleged sexual harassment by Cain.
Ms. Allred's client will be the first to give her name and to speak out about details of what she alleges occurred between her and Cain.”
The attorney's high-powered name gives legitimacy to Bialek's allegations — something Cain's three previous accusers, all anonymous, haven't shared. However, Bialek says she would never have come forward if not for the actions of the other women. (She won't file a lawsuit and isn't asking for any money.)
Cain is in L.A. today for a cameo on late-night television. Though he's announced that he won't address any sexual-harassment stuff on air, that may not apply to this new, decidedly more legitimate accusation.
His statement today is full of denial: “The allegations are completely false. I have never harassed anyone.”
Update: Information on what looks to be Sharon Bialek's Facebook profile suggests she's somewhere around 50 years old.
Update: Watch for yourself.