Huffpost Politics

Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Accuser Hesitant To Discuss Episode In Public

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WASHINGTON — They are two successful, professional women, now the focus of an intensifying presidential campaign after their sexual harassment complaints against GOP businessman Herman Cain became public.

One woman thrived in her pursuit of her communications career, more recently working in federal government jobs in Washington. The other moved up in positions focusing on political outreach and later public policy research, working since 2005 at a large lobbying and consulting firm in New Jersey with Republican and Democratic clients.

Cain calls their complaints of sexual harassment, settled a dozen years ago while he was leading the National Restaurant Association, "totally false" and baseless, raising questions about the women who, until days ago, had privately dealt with their allegations of his sexually inappropriate behavior.

The two women have declined dogged media requests to speak out, including requests from The Associated Press. A lawyer for one of the women has said he will ask the restaurant association to lift a confidentiality agreement prohibiting comment after Cain insisted he did nothing wrong, suggesting that at least one of the women may have been terminated. But his client is having second thoughts, concerned about how the frenzied attention she'd likely receive will affect her career, her family, and her life today, a person close to the situation said Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the accusations and the fact that the incident has become public is very unsettling to the woman.

The AP confirmed the identity of the women but is not revealing their names. But what can be disclosed about their backgrounds without identifying them reveals that Cain's two accusers moved on professionally and personally after their ordeals at the restaurant association.

One of the women continued her education after earning her college degree. She has handled political outreach and fundraising in the private sector and for trade organizations. She owns her own home, volunteers on community boards and serves on public boards in her county and town.

The other woman earned her master's degree before moving into her current communications career. She started a media career in Washington soon after graduate school, working in the private sector and in the federal government. Her husband has worked as a lobbyist on environmental, municipal and health issues. And he's donated money to both Democrats and Republicans. They live in suburban Maryland.

A third woman interviewed by the AP said Cain also made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures to her while she worked with him at the restaurant association. She said she considered filing a complaint against him because of what she considered aggressive and unwanted behavior. But she never did.

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Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report. DeFalco reported from Trenton, N.J.

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