Cain denies sexual harassment claims from ASU alumna

DENOUNCING ALLEGATIONS: Herman Cain addresses the press in Scottsdale Tuesday afternoon. Cain held the press conference to publicly respond to the sexual harassment allegations made by Sharon Bialek, saying that nothing ever happened between them. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Tuesday that several accusations of sexual harassment levied against him were completely false.

Cain spoke to media representatives at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort and said he did not recognize Sharon Bialek, one of his accusers, at all.

Bialek graduated from ASU with a degree in communications in December 1983.

Cain said the accusations “exceed common sense and certainly exceed standards of decency in America.”

Last week, Bialek accused Cain of pushing her head toward his crotch and putting his hand under her skirt in 1997.

Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse Cain of sexual harassment and the first to do so publicly.

Cain said he is willing to undergo a lie detector test, but only if the accusations had merit.

“The charges and accusations, I absolutely reject,” he said. “They simply did not happen.”

Cain said he takes accusations of sexual harassment seriously after working in various levels of management before announcing his candidacy for president.

“It’s very serious and I have made sure that was something we didn’t tolerate in any organization I was responsible for,” Cain said.

Libel and defamation attorney L. Lin Wood introduced Cain, and said his client has been “falsely accused” and must respond to attacks on his reputation.

“Now Herman Cain, in the court of public opinion, has to respond not to admissible evidence,” Wood said.  “He has to respond to hearsay, he has to respond to rumors and speculation.”

Wood has represented clients in several high profile defamation cases, including John and Patsy Ramsey and Anna Nicole Smith’s mother.

Vice President of the ASU College Republicans and political science junior Kristin Middleton said she believes the allegations against Cain are false.

Middleton said although the club doesn’t support any specific candidate, the publicity that the allegations are bringing Cain might help more than hurt.

“If anything, I think it helps his name recognition,” she said. “I guess time will really tell in the next couple of weeks to see how it really affects him.”

Cain said the idea that the accusations will cause him to withdraw from the presidential primary race “ain’t gonna happen.”

“I’m doing this for the American people and for their children and grandchildren,” Cain said. “I will not be deterred by false, anonymous (and) incorrect accusations.”

Reach the reporter at brennan.j.smith@asu.edu

Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.