The first woman to speak publicly about sexual harassment accusations against Herman Cain said the Republican presidential hopeful tried to force a sexual encounter on her during a visit to Washington D.C.
Speaking before a packed press conference in New York City and accompanied by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, Sharon Bialeck said she traveled to Washington D.C. to visit Herman Cain in July of 1997, looking for help finding a job. She said that following drinks and dinner that night, Cain tried to put his hand up her skirt and initiate oral sex.
Before the press conference, the Cain campaign released the following statement: “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone.”
Bialeck said that her boyfriend had booked her a room at the Capital Hilton for the trip, but when she arrived, she found a very large room had been reserved for her. Bialeck said that she met Mr. Cain in the hotel's lobby that evening for drinks, and told him about the size of her room. She said in response, Cain smirked and told her, "I upgraded you."
Bialeck said the two then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. She said that following the meal, Cain suggested they stop by the National Restaurant Association's offices, on 17th Street in Northwest D.C.
The two went upstairs into the offices, Bialeck said. She said that in the Association's office, while the two were sitting down, Cain put her hand on her leg.
She told the press conference Herman Cain reached under her pleated skirt towards her genital area. Bialeck said Cain then grabbed her head and pushed it down towards his crotch.
She said she was shocked and surprised, and asked Cain what he was doing. Bialeck said Mr. Cain told her, "You want a job, right?"
She said he stopped his advances and took her back to the Capital Hilton. Bialeck said she did not immediately file a complaint because she was not employed at the time of the incident. She said she came forward now when she heard about three other women who allegedly had sexual harassment incidents with Cain but have not spoken publicly.
Before the press conference on Monday, Herman Cain spokesperson J.D. Gordon dismissed the charges.
"Just as the country finally begins to refocus on our crippling $15 trillion national debt and the unacceptably high unemployment rate, now activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain. "
Bialeck told the press conference that she wants Cain to admit wrongdoing. "I want you Mr. Cain to come clean just admit what you did," she said.