Gloria Allred brought forth the 4th accuser in the ongoing sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain Monday afternoon. Sharon Bialek worked for the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association in Chicago in 1996-1997. Part of her job was to work on a new scholarship initiative for students who wished to continue their education in the restaurant industry. She was let go in 1997 after being told she had not raised enough money. Bialek felt her discharge was unfair but had no legal resource. Having spent some time with Cain at an NRA convention in 1997 she felt they had made a warm, respectful connection and reached out to Cain for help with employment. As Allred puts it, Cain offered her his own version of a “stimulus package”.
Allred offered declarations from an ex-boyfriend and businessman friend of Bialek’s who back up her claim of harassment by Cain during that time and will attest to the fact that she shared her concerns with them.
Bialek was well spoken and intelligent. Her resume is impressive and she is currently a stay at home mother. Allred was also careful to note that Bialek is a registered Republican. She described first meeting Cain in 1997 at an NRA luncheon with her boyfriend and how they immediately like Cain. She claimed Cain was “warm and attentive” and she was honored when Cain invited her and her boyfriend back to a party at his hotel suite later that night. It was her boyfriend who suggested she contact Cain to help her with a job hunt. Bialek continued that she called Cain and arranged to meet him in Washington D.C. “for coffee”. When she checked into the D.C. Capital Hilton, Bialek described how surprised she was to find her room was rather “palatial”. Upon meeting Cain in the lobby bar, he proceeded to ask her how she liked her accommodations. At this point, Bialek describes Cain as “smirking” as he said, “I upgraded you”. Later, the two went to dinner and then Cain suggested they drive by the NRA headquarters, to which Bialek agreed. That is where the alleged assault took place. Bialek claims they parked the car at which point Cain reached up her skirt and tried to fondle her, then grabbed her head and forced it toward his genital area. She immediately rebuked him, explained that wasn’t what she came there for and left. Bialek later described the general incident to her boyfriend and another friend, but not the details. She also says she did not come forward with the accusations at the time because she was not employed by the NRA, but seeing his candidacy now, she felt it was important to represent the other women who could not or would not come forward, and victims of “sexual harassment everywhere”. Bialek wrapped up with a statement aimed directly at Cain – “I want you to come clean…I implore you to make this right”.
Bialek answered no further questions herself, but Allred did take a few from the press directly following the statements. Allred says her client is not filing any law suits, has not sold her story or profited from it and is only interested in lending a voice to the charges.
Bialek seemed confident, well-spoken and quite put-together. She did not carry an air of fake desperation or duplicity, but she was also rather emotionless considering she was speaking of such a disturbing event. The press conference seems to raise more questions than answers. Has Cain known about this woman’s claims (false or true that they may be) all this time and if so, had he simply hoped they would not be publicized? Why did Bialek fly all the way from Chicago to Washington D.C. to ask for help finding a job in the first place? It seems a simple phone call or a few emails could have sufficed. If the allegations are true, why would Cain – a very intelligent man- even run? The ball is clearly in Cain’s court and it remains to be seen how his camp will handle this current situation. So far, Cain’s support has only swelled in light of the controversy. It remains to be seen if that support will continue now that America has a face and a voice to put to the accusations.