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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

NPR has learned some of the details of sexual harassment allegations surrounding GOP candidate Herman Cain. It seems that the alleged inappropriate behavior involving female subordinates went beyond verbal. Cain says the accusations are false, a characterizations that one of the woman's lawyers disputes.

Joining us is NPR's Liz Halloran. And, Liz, from the time the story broke four days ago, there have been few specifics as to what Mr. Cain supposedly did. What have you found out?

LIZ HALLORAN, BYLINE: Well, Robert, as this story has played out this week, we've been gathering details, talking to people who have had direct knowledge of the harassment accusations at the time they were made. That would be in the late-1990s, when Mr. Cain ran the restaurant lobbying group, which is based here in D.C. He ran it for about three years.

Let me tell you what we learned from them. The alleged harassment, according to our sources, was persisent. It was usually, but not always, verbal in nature, and it involved sexually graphic comments and approaches. Our sources tell us that those were typically made when the women were alone with Mr. Cain in work situations. We don't have an incident-by-incident accounting but this is how the nature of the harassment has been characterized to us.

SIEGEL: Now, what you found out, this information concerns two different women who actually received cash agreements from the National Restaurant Association after they brought these charges, but Mr. Cain denies that he ever harassed anyone.

HALLORAN: Correct. First of all, he flatly denied that he engaged in harassment. And he's characterized the incidents that led to the complaints as benign and he's also characterized the women as perhaps not understanding his brand of humor. But what's also interesting is that the two women who made these complaints in 1999 did so independently. They did not know that the other had made a complaint.

And as these complaints moved through, they both received settlements. One received a settlement reportedly of about $35,000. The other woman received a settlement reportedly in the range of $45,000. Now, one of the things we also learned is that at least one of the women reported the alleged harassment to her supervisor. Her supervisor ran it up the chain to human resources and the behavior allegedly did not stop.

SIEGEL: Do we know how junior or how senior these women were in the hierarchy of the restaurant association?

HALLORAN: From what we understand, one of them was a junior member of the staff, potentially right out or shortly out of college. And the other woman is a longtime Washington professional, worked in the federal government in federal positions and does so now, and was in a professional position at the lobbying group.

SIEGEL: One of the questions surrounding these women is that their agreements evidently included confidentiality clauses. Does that mean that they're still not going to go public or not seeking to even go public with their stories?

HALLORAN: Well, they have not gone public, despite all of the media attention this week. And what it happening tomorrow is one of the women's lawyers is asking the association to allow her to be released from that confidentiality agreement, so that if she decides to make a statement, if she decides to go public, she can. Her lawyer has indicated to me that she has no intention of going public. She does not want to, she doesn't want to be part of a Washington scandal. So, right now, we don't anticipate that she will go public tomorrow.

SIEGEL: Okay, thank you, Liz.

HALLORAN: Thanks, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Liz Halloran.

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