Bennett is calling on the association to waive the agreement so the woman, a federal worker living in suburban Maryland, can rebut Cain’s statements this week that the allegations were false and baseless.
“It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett said in an interview. “The National Restaurant Association ought to release them and allow them to respond.”
Tuesday on Fox News, Cain declined to comment on whether the non-disclosure agreement should be lifted, saying he is consulting with a lawyer about the possible legal implications. In a statement, the restaurant association said that it had not been approached by Bennett but that it would “respond as appropriate.”
The disclosure Sunday by Politico that two women had accused Cain of sexual harassment and received settlements from the restaurant association sparked a political crisis for the Georgia businessman, who has risen from the bottom of the Republican presidential pack to become a front-runner for the party’s nomination.
Only Cain’s version of events has been aired publicly, and he has said that his recollections are hazy. Support for Cain has remained strong despite the controversy, his staff said, and the campaign claimed a banner fundraising day Monday. But that could change if one or both of the women speak publicly and appear credible, and Tuesday’s events made clear that pressure will remain on Cain to fully detail the incidents.
Bennett’s client is eager to share her story, the lawyer said, but according to someone familiar with her thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity, she also is wary of her name becoming public. The woman “did not create this story,” the source said, and she thinks she has been “completely swept up in this hurricane” but is discussing with her family whether to make her story public.
The woman’s claim was that the harassment occurred over months and was not an isolated comment or incident, the source said.
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that a second woman received a settlement of $35,000, or one year’s salary, after Cain made her uncomfortable working at the restaurant association, according to three people with direct knowledge of the payment.
Cain verified Monday that one allegation of sexual harassment was lodged against him during his time at the association but said he did not know of a second. He first said he had no knowledge of a settlement but later said he knew some details of the payout. In interviews, Cain attributed his inconsistent recollections to various factors, including the amount of time that had passed.