A woman on Monday accused leading presidential candidate for the Republican nomination Herman Cain of groping her in a car in 1997, after a meeting during which she had sought his help in getting a job.
This is the fourth allegation of sexual impropriety against the former pizza chain CEO, but the first by an accuser who has gone public with it. All four allegations go back to his time as head of the National Restaurant Association.
Cain slid his hand "under my skirt and reached for my genitals," said the new accuser Sharon Bialek, adding, "He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch." She protested, but Cain pressed.
"You want a job, right," Cain is said to have replied.
Cain campaign called the allegations "bogus" in a statement issued immediately after Bialek finished her opening statement at a press conference in New York, with activist lawyer Gloria Allred by her side.
Presidential hopeful Cain has faced intense public scrutiny after hurtling to the top of the Republican list with a bunch of impressive debates.
First came a report about allegations of sexually harassment by two employees of the restaurant association, which he headed in the 1990s. They had settled for financial compensation and left the association. They have refused say anything publicly since.
The third accused has also stayed out of the public limelight. The fourth, Bialek is being taken more seriously as she has come out in the open, given a statement with two witness endorsements.
Bialek worked then at an education foundation run by the restaurant association, but had been laid off. On her boyfriend's advice - they both had met Cain once before during a convention - she sought a meeting with him. Cain agreed to see her and asked her to get in touch whenever she could. And her boyfriend booked her into a Washington hotel. She let Cain know of the details.
And when she checked in, she was pleasantly surprised to find herself in a suite. "I upgraded you," Cain let her know later. After a dinner, during which they discussed her employment situation, on their way to her hotel, he offered to show her his restaurant association office. She agreed, but they stayed in the car. And he made his move. But stopped when Bialek protested persistently, and dropped her at the hotel.
She had not filed a complaint as she was not an employee of the association. And was now coming out to give a "face and voice" to victims of sexual harassment who don't come out fearing retaliation and public humiliation.