AP Exclusive: Third worker says Cain harassed her

By Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 2 2011 6:05 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain pauses while speaking at the Congressional Health Caucus Thought Leaders Series, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — A third woman considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain over what she deemed aggressive and unwanted behavior when she and Cain, now a Republican presidential candidate, worked together during the late 1990s, the woman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. She said the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.

The woman said he made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against Cain, who was then the head of the National Restaurant Association.

The woman was located and approached by the AP as part of its investigation into harassment complaints against Cain that were disclosed in recent days and have thrown his presidential campaign into turmoil. She spoke only on condition of anonymity, saying she feared losing her current job and the possibility of damage to her reputation.

Cain's campaign denied anew that he'd done anything wrong, decried a "smear campaign" as he is riding high in opinion polls and accused rival Rick Perry's operation of being behind the original stories.

Perry's campaign denied any involvement — and suggested the campaign of yet another candidate, Mitt Romney, might be a source. Romney's campaign said that wasn't true.

The woman said she did not file a formal complaint against Cain because she began having fewer interactions with him. Later, she learned that a co-worker — one of the two women whose accusations have rocked Cain's campaign this week — had already done so. She said she would have felt she had to file otherwise.

She said Cain told her that he had confided to colleagues how attractive she was and invited her to his corporate apartment outside work.

His actions "were inappropriate, and it made me feel uncomfortable," she said.

Earlier this week, amid the allegations but not addressing them specifically, Cain said he had "a sense of humor, and some people have a problem with that."

But the former employee told the AP: "People have said he's a jovial guy. But I never knew him to make jokes like that."

The AP confirmed that the employee worked at the restaurant association with Cain during the period in question, that she has no party affiliation in her voter registration in the past decade and is not identified as a donor in federal campaigns or local political campaigns. Records show she was registered as a Democrat at one point previously.

Asked for comment about the accusations, including the most recent, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said, "Mr. Cain has said over the past two days at public events that we could see other baseless allegations made against him as this appalling smear campaign continues." Gordon added, "He has never acted in the way alleged by inside-the-Beltway media, and his distinguished record over 40 years spent climbing the corporate ladder speaks for itself."

Later campaign manager Mark Block alleged that Texas Gov. Perry's campaign was behind the original stories on the two women and demanded an apology.

Denying any involvement, Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan says the Texan's campaign learned of the allegations when Politico first published a story late Sunday evening.

Cain himself, in an interview with Forbes, said he believed a Perry consultant gave information about the allegations to Politico. After denying earlier this week that he knew about any settlements, Cain said Wednesday that he outlined the allegations of a woman to the consultant, Curt Anderson, when Anderson was helping him on an earlier campaign.

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