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US woman stands by claims of Cain harassment

world Updated: Nov 05, 2011 11:31 IST
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One of the women who has accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment said through her lawyer that the Republican presidential hopeful had made "several" attempts to harass her as she reaffirmed her allegations against him.

Cain, who has joined former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at the head of the Republican field, insists he is innocent of harassing two women when he was president of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) between 1996 and 1999.

A lawyer for one of the women told a press conference on Friday that his client did not want to be identified, but "stands by the complaint she made" of alleged harassment "over at least a month or two" 12 years ago.

"In 1999, I was retained by a female employee of the National Restaurant Association concerning several instances of sexual harassment by the then CEO," attorney Joel Bennett said, reading from a statement written with his unnamed client.

"She made a complaint in good faith about a series of unwanted advances and inappopriate behaviour from the CEO."

Bennett said his client, who has been married for 26 years, resolved the case with "a monetary settlement." News website Politico revealed that the settlement was $45,000.

He refused to go into any details of the alleged harassment, but added that Cain's denials were "inaccurate factually."

"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," Bennett said.

But he added: "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. If he chooses to not remember or not acknowledge those, that's his issue."

Current NRA president Dawn Sweeney later confirmed that Bennett's client had filed a "formal internal complaint" and that Cain had at the time disputed the allegations.

The NRA, said Sweeney, had then brokered an agreement -- not involving Cain -- with the woman "to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability."

Five days after Politico broke the story, the scandal has continued to dog the US news, drowning out most other coverage of the 2012 Republican White House race as more details emerge.

The New York Times has previously reported that a second association employee received $35,000, a year's pay, after she too complained that Cain had harassed her. Little else has been reported about the second accuser.

After initial denials, Cain belatedly conceded on Tuesday that he was aware that one female employee had received a paid settlement but continued to deny any knowledge of a second accuser.

Cain is battling to be crowned the Republican Party's nominee to take on Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama in the November 2012 elections.

However, a new opinion poll indicates the charges have barely made a dent in Cain's standing in the contest.

As many as 55% of Republicans polled by The Washington Post and ABC News said reports of Cain's alleged misconduct were "not a serious matter," and 70% said the situation made no difference in their vote.