Over the weekend, the politics blog Politico dropped the bomb that Herman Cain, a Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination, was accused of sexual harassment twice by women who later took pay-outs not to discuss the incidents. Politico claimed that when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association during the 1990s, two women complained to superiors about his behavior — innuendo, personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, physical gestures that made the women uncomfortable — and eventually left their jobs with five-figure settlements.
On Tuesday, the lawyer for one of the accusers told The New York Times that she wants to speak out about the incident — but is bound by her non-disclosure agreement.
Through her lawyer, the unnamed woman has asked the National Restaurant Association to release her from the confidentiality restrictions, perhaps by arguing that neither her nor Cain are part of the association anymore. Today, the attorney formally asked the National Restaurant Association for permission to release a public statement about the claims.
I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know the likelihood of this accuser being released from her NDA. However, I am skeptical about whether it would even be worth it for her to speak out. Instead of focusing on whether Herman Cain did or did not sexually harass these women and whether, if he did, that makes him un-fit for public office, the focus would shift to what these women might have done to “deserve” it. All too often that becomes the fate of a woman or girl who speaks up about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or rape.
In any case, Herman Cain has many more troubles afoot. On Wednesday, a third former employee told the AP that back in the ’90s she considered filing a workplace complaint after Cain “made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures” and invited her to his corporate apartment. He also took a blow from a veteran Republican pollster named Chris Wilson (a male) who worked for the National Restaurant Association and told an Oklahoma City radio station that he sexually harassed a woman at an Arlington, Virginia, restaurant. In an interview with Politico, Wilson would not say what Cain did or said to the woman, but said that it occurred at a table with at least three other individuals present and it made everyone “uncomfortable,” prompting others to ask Cain to stop. (The Cain campaign didn’t respond to Politico’s request for a comment.)
What do you think about the accusations against Herman Cain? If you were supportive of him — or supportive of the Republicans in general, but still figuring out who you would vote for — do these accusations change your feelings? Let us know in the comments. Does it matter to you in general when a politician — whether its a Republican, Democrat (ahem, Clinton), or whomever — is accused of sexual harassment?
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.
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