Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for the first time has offered a detailed recollection of what led an employee of the National Restaurant Association to lodge a sexual harassment charge against him when he was CEO of the organization.
Cain spoke in response to detailed questioning from Fox News’ Greta van Susteren, who led Cain through the facts of the case in an extended interview. That interview was taped to be shown on Fox Monday night.
Cain told van Susteren that he remembered one woman who was a writer in the Association’s communications department. “I can’t even remember her name, but I do remember the formal allegation she made in terms of sexual harassment,” Cain said. “I turned it over to my general counsel and one of the ladies that worked for me, the woman in charge of human resources. They did investigate…and it was found to be baseless.”
Van Susteren asked Cain how often he saw the woman. “I might see her in the office because her office was on the same floor as my office,” Cain said. Van Susteren asked whether the woman traveled with Cain, who spent a lot of time on the road speaking to restaurant associations around the country. “No, never,” Cain said.
Cain said the woman was “younger than I was,” but he could not recall her age. Pressed, he said, “It would have had to have been late 30s, early 40s.”
Van Susteren asked what Cain did that led to the accusation. There were reportedly more than one accusations in the complaint, but Cain said he recalled just one incident. “She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying — and I was standing close to her — and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, ‘My wife comes up to my chin.’” At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin. “And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable,” Cain said, “something that was in the sexual harassment charge.”
Van Susteren asked whether the woman complained at the time. “I can’t recall any comment that she made, positive or negative.”
Cain also offered new information about the settlement of the case. Politico, which broke the sexual harassment allegation story, said that the woman received a money settlement “in the five-figure range.” When van Susteren asked about that, Cain said, “My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.” When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said. “Maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”
As for reports that a second woman also complained about his behavior, Cain said, “I am totally unaware as to any formal charges coming from this other person.” Cain said he was told the woman’s name by reporters at Politico. “I have no knowledge that she made a formal complaint,” Cain said.
Cain told van Susteren that the woman worked in the Restaurant Association’s government affairs department, working with the group’s political action committee. He said he seldom saw her. As to the allegation that he might have made what Politico quoted as “an unwanted sexual advance” during a trip to Chicago, Cain said, “When we were at the restaurant show, I was constantly talking with different staff members about different issues. If I had a private conversation with her, I don’t recall it.”
The interview with Fox, scheduled to air on van Susteren’s program at 10 p.m. Eastern time, is part of a series of interviews Cain is making this week. (Note: I am a Fox News contributor.) The press offensive was originally planned to discuss Cain’s economic plans, but has turned into a series of questions about the sexual harassment allegations from the 1990s.