Lawyer For Cain Accuser Issues Statement

The lawyer for one of the women who has received a settlement after filing a sexual harassment complaint against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain released a public statement. It rebuts Cain's statements that the claim was baseless. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Tamara Keith for more.

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GUY RAZ, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

ROBERT SIEGEL: And I'm Robert Siegel. One of the women who filed a sexual harassment complaint against Herman Cain in 1999 has been granted permission to comment on the matter. But instead of speaking publicly, she has chosen to release a statement through her lawyer. NPR's Tamara Keith has been following this story all week and joins us now. Hi, Tamara.

TAMARA KEITH: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, what does the statement say?

KEITH: It doesn't reveal a lot of detail. It does say that she complained about a series of inappropriate behaviors in good faith and accepted a financial agreement. Now, part of that financial agreement was a nondisclosure clause, which is why up until now she hasn't been able to share her story. This all dates back to when Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association. And this afternoon, the association granted the woman permission to speak. But her lawyer, Joel Bennett, reading a statement, said that she wants to keep her identity a secret.

JOEL BENNETT: She and her husband see no value in revisiting this matter now nor in discussing the matter any further publicly or privately. In fact, it would be extremely painful to do so. She is grateful that she was able to return to her government career, where she is extremely happy, serving the American people to the very best of her ability.

SIEGEL: That, again, the lawyer for the woman. What is the Restaurant Association saying about this?

KEITH: Well, they released a statement of their own, and I'll read part of it for you. It says: Mr. Bennett's client filed a formal internal complaint in accordance with the association's existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint, and then the association and Mr. Bennett's client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter. But there was no admission of liability. It also says that Mr. Cain was not party to that agreement.

Now, in recent days, Herman Cain has been saying all kinds of things about this. He's been remembering things as the hours and days have gone along. And, in part, this statement confirms what he said about having not been involved in the process. But it does not resolve the question of the size of the settlement. Neither the attorney nor the association would say what the size of the settlement was.

SIEGEL: Seems that this leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

KEITH: Oh, lots and lots of questions. And, you know, the reality is this matter was resolved quickly and internally within the National Restaurant Association. It never went to court. There were no depositions. It was handled quickly and quietly up until now. The accuser's attorney did take some questions though at the end of the press conference. And he wanted to make it clear that he felt that his client's complaints were legitimate and had merit despite what Mr. Cain has been saying throughout the week.

BENNETT: Mr. Cain knows the specific incidents that were alleged. My client filed a written complaint in 1999 against him specifically and it had very specific incidents in it. And if he chooses to not remember or not acknowledge those, that's his issue.

SIEGEL: Well, what is Mr. Cain and his campaign, what are they saying about this?

KEITH: We got a statement from his spokesman, J.D. Gordon, and he did not talk about that at all. He just said that they look forward to focusing their attention on the real issues impacting this country, like fixing the broken economy and the 9-9-9 plan...

SIEGEL: 9-9-9, right.

KEITH: ...of course. And I did check the campaign's website, though, they've been doing this fund drive. And in the last 24 hours, they've raised $430,000.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Tamara. That's NPR's Tamara Keith.

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