CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago area woman said Monday that presidential candidate Herman Cain groped her more than a decade ago when she approached him for help finding a job.
At a news conference in New York, Sharon Bialek came forward as the fourth woman to accuse Cain of sexual harassment.
Bialek said she wanted to provide “a face and a voice” to support the other accusers, who so far have remained anonymous.
As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, Bialek’s claims were the most damaging for Cain, not only because she’s the first accuser to come forward publicly, but because she left little to the imagination about the alleged harassment.
“He suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt and reached for my genitals,” Bialek said of her encounter with Cain in 1997. “He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch.”
Cain’s campaign has denied all the harassment claims and did so again shortly after Bialek came forward.
“All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are false,” the Cain campaign said in a statement.
Bialek worked for the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association in 1996 and 1997. Cain ran the trade group at the time and Bialek said she first met him at a trade convention.
She said they sat next to each other during a couple of dinners and at a luncheon at the NRA convention in Chicago in 1997.
Bialek said she was so inspired by a speech Cain gave that, “when he sat down, I said to him ‘When are you running for president?’”
About a month after the convention, Bialek was fired from her job for not raising enough scholarship money and her boyfriend suggested she reach out to Cain for help.
Bialek said she did and Cain agreed to meet her in Washington, D.C., while she was visiting friends.
Bialek said she later learned Cain upgraded her hotel room to a suite, but didn’t push the issue as the two went to dinner.
After that dinner, Bialek claimed, Cain crossed the line while the two were in a car headed back to the hotel. She said Cain offered to show her the NRA offices.
“But, 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. “He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch.”
Bialek said she told Cain to stop and he did, then drove her back to her hotel.
She said she never filed a workplace complaint against Cain, because she wasn’t employed, but she said she did confront Cain about it last month while he was a Tea Party event in the Chicago area.
“I went up to him and asked him, ‘Do you remember me?’ I guess I wanted to see if he was going to be man enough to own up to what he had done some 14 years ago,” Bialek said. “He acknowledged that he remembered me from the foundation, but he kind of looked uncomfortable and he said nothing as he was whisked away for his speech by his handlers.”
Bialek is being represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who said that Bialek is not filing a lawsuit or other legal claim against Cain. Bialek said she just wants Cain to acknowledge harassing her.
“I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean. Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people,” Bialek said.
Allred also said that Bialek was born and raised in Chicago and is a registered Republican, a single mother and has a long, successful work history.
Bialek also worked in sales for CBS Radio in Chicago, as well as WGN Radio.