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Herman Cain Addresses Sexual Harassment Settlement

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In an interview airing on Fox News on Monday night, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says that a financial settlement was paid to one of two women who accused him of sexual harassment while he was serving as head of the National Restaurant Association over a decade ago.

However, in responding to the accusations in question earlier in the day, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO said, "I have never sexually harassed anyone and those accusations are totally false ... It was concluded, after a thorough investigation, that it had no basis." He added, "I am unaware of any sort of settlement."

HuffPost's Jon Ward relays background on the controversy and on what Cain had to say on the matter at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.:

Cain entered the Press Club less than 24 hours after Politico reported that the former Godfather's Pizza CEO and head of the National Restaurant Association was accused of sexual harassment by two unnamed women at the association. The charges were not detailed but Politico reported that both women received payments as settlement. NBC News reported Monday that they had independently confirmed a settlement with one of the two women.

...

Cain was not asked how he could have been unaware of a settlement if he knew the results of an investigation into the charges. He said that once the charges were brought against him he recused himself from the investigation.

And he added that he does not want the NRA to confirm or deny the settlements, or give any information at all about the incidents.

According to Politico, nondisclosure agreements were included in the settlements received by the women who made the allegations in question against Cain.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner reports:

When [Fox News host Greta] 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."

Cain's campaign has pushed back against the initial report released by Politico. During an interview on Fox News on Monday, the GOP contender said, "If the restaurant did a settle I wasn't even aware of it." He added, "And I hope it wasn't for much because nothing happened. So if there was a settlement it was handled by some of the other officers that worked for me at the Association."

The Hill reports that the presidential campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney denied any involvement in pushing the story on the sexual allegations into the spotlight.

During an interview that aired on PBS' NewsHour on Monday night, Judy Woodruff pressed Cain on some of the details included in the Politico report. Here's an excerpt of the exchange:

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there was some mention of a hotel room at a convention or at a meeting. Did any one of these women, were they ever asked to meet you, or....

HERMAN CAIN: That I absolutely do not recall. You know, I have no recollection of that.

According to the report from Politico:

On the details of Cain’s allegedly inappropriate behavior with the two women, Politico has a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.

The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.

Asked by Woodruff if he demonstrated any behavior he believes "might have been inappropriate," Cain responded, "In my opinion, no. But as you would imagine, it's in the eye of the person who thinks that maybe I crossed the line." He added, "I worked for the Department of the Navy, the Coca-Cola Company, Pillsbury, Burger King, Godfather's Pizza -- years and years and years of working in the business environment, working around men, women, all types of people -- never, never accused of any sort of sexual harassment. I have never sexually harassed anyone. And so this false allegation to now come up is kind of baffling."

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