Sharon Bialek: Herman Cain a ‘pathological liar’ with ‘amnesia’
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH AND LYNN SWEET Staff Reporters November 9, 2011 9:34AM
Sharon Bialek, who accused GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain of sexual harassment, during interview at NBC5, 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive, Wednesday, November 9, 2011. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.
Updated: December 13, 2011 8:25AM
A north suburban woman who accused presidential candidate Herman Cain of groping her when she went to him for help in finding a job says Cain is lying when he says he doesn’t even remember her.
Cain told reporters Tuesday that he had never seen Sharon Bialek — who he referred to as “a troubled woman” — before a news conference at which she accused him of inappropriate conduct 14 years ago.
Bialek says that’s not true. Just a month ago, Bialek said, she approached Cain at a Tea Party conference in Schaumburg and reminded him of their history, she said in an interview with MSNBC Wednesday.
The encounter was first reported by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed, quoting radio reporter Amy Jacobsen saying she saw the two hug.
“Let me clarify, there was no hugging involved,” Bialek said. “In order to get his attention ... I grabbed his elbow and leaned in towards him. ... He acknowledged who I was and remembered what I said. It was simply a few statements to jar his memory.”
Bialek made even stronger remarks about Cain in an interview with WFLD-Channel 32, also on Wednesday.
Cain has “complete amnesia,” she said. “Pathological liars usually do those kinds of things.”
Coming forward has brought Bialek unwanted scrutiny about her financial problems.
In addition to the bankruptcies and collection actions against Bialek reported by the Sun-Times and other media Monday and Tuesday, another case was unearthed by the Cook County Clerk of the Court Wednesday.
This one involves a $1,250 loan Bialek took out at 200 percent interest in 2007. The high interest rate means she would have had to pay back $2,588. She paid all but $1,106 of the debt. In 2009, Illinois Lending Corp. filed suit against her saying that with interest and attorneys fees, the outstanding debt had grown to $3,500.
Bialek asked a judge to revoke a default judgement against her because she was in the hospital with heart disease, which prevented her from appearing in court. The case is still pending.
Bialek has strenuously denied that her financial problems led her to go public with her claims about Cain.
Bialek, who owns a home in Glenview but had lived with a boyfriend in Mundelein, also said Wednesday she has not decided whether to participate in a joint news conference with the three other women who have accused Cain of sexual impropriety. The attorney for another accuser, Karen Kraushaar, has said he hopes to have all four women appear.
Reports surfaced that Kraushaar, who settled a sexual harassment complaint against Cain in 1999, complained three years later at her next job about unfair treatment.
Kraushaar said she should be allowed to work from home after a serious car accident and accusing a manager of circulating a sexually charged email, The Associated Press has learned.
Kraushaar, 55, filed the complaint while working as a spokeswoman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Justice Department in late 2002 or early 2003, with the assistance of her lawyer, Joel Bennett, who also handled her earlier sexual harassment complaint against Cain in 1999. Three former supervisors familiar with Kraushaar’s complaint, which did not include a claim of sexual harassment, described it for the AP under condition of anonymity because the matter was handled internally by the agency and was not public.
To settle the complaint at the immigration service, Kraushaar initially demanded thousands of dollars in payment, a reinstatement of leave she used after the accident earlier in 2002, promotion on the federal pay scale and a one-year fellowship to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, according to a former supervisor familiar with the complaint. The promotion itself would have increased her annual salary between $12,000 and $16,000, according to salary tables in 2002 from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Kraushaar told the AP she considered her employment complaint “relatively minor” and she later dropped it.
“The concern was that there may have been discrimination on the job and that I was being treated unfairly,” Kraushaar said.
Kraushaar said Tuesday she did not remember details about the complaint and did not remember asking for a payment, a promotion or a Harvard fellowship. Bennett, her lawyer, declined to discuss the case with the AP, saying he considered it confidential. Kraushaar left her job at the immigration service after dropping the complaint in 2003. She went to work as a spokeswoman in the office of the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.
Kraushaar’s complaint was based on supervisors denying her request to work full time from home after a serious car accident in 2002, three former supervisors said. Two of them said Kraushaar also was denied previous requests to work from home before the car accident.
The complaint also cited as objectionable an email that a manager had circulated comparing computers to women and men, a former supervisor said. The complaint claimed that the email, based on humor widely circulated on the Internet, was sexually explicit, according to the supervisor, who did not have a copy of the email. The joke circulated online lists reasons men and women were like computers, including that men were like computers because “in order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.” Women were like computers because “even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.”
Kraushaar told the AP that she remembered the complaint focusing on supervisors denying her the opportunity to work from home after her car accident. She said other employees were allowed to work from home.
Kraushaar, who is married and lives in suburban Maryland, was among two women who formally settled harassment complaints against Cain in exchange for severance payments in the late 1990s when they worked at the restaurant association. Bennett has said Kraushaar settled her claim during the summer of 1999, shortly after Cain left the organization. Neither Kraushaar nor Bennett have described exactly what Cain was accused of saying or doing to Kraushaar when she worked there, although Bennett said Kraushaar wants to conduct a joint news conference with all the women who have accused Cain. The New York Times reported previously that Kraushaar received $45,000 in the settlement with the restaurant association.
Kraushaar agreed to discuss some aspects of the complaint at the immigration service if the AP agreed to protect her privacy, as it did in previous accounts of her complaint against Cain. She subsequently waived her privacy by confirming for news organizations her identity as one of two women who settled complaints against Cain, so the AP no longer is protecting Kraushaar’s identity.
Cain has denied that he sexually harassed Kraushaar and others who have accused him of inappropriate behavior.
In a news conference Tuesday evening, Cain said allegations of sexual harassment by Kraushaar — whom Cain identified by name for the first time — were determined to be “baseless,” but he did not explain who made this determination and Kraushaar has disputed this. Cain said that after negotiations between Bennett and the restaurant association’s outside counsel she received money under an employment agreement, which Cain said was different from a legal settlement.
“When she made her accusations, they were found to be baseless and she could not find anyone to corroborate her story,” Cain said.
Cain said he remembered gesturing to Kraushaar and noting that she was the same height as Cain’s wife, about chin-high to Cain. The Georgia businessman said Kraushaar did not react noticeably, but he said the restaurant association lawyer later told him that was the most serious claim that Kraushaar made against him, “the one she was most upset about.”
“Other things that might have been in the accusations, I’m not aware of, I don’t remember,” Cain said.
Bialek, who once worked for the restaurant association’s education foundation, accused Cain in a nationally televised news conference this week of groping her and attempting to force himself on her inside a parked car after they had dinner in 1997. Another woman told the AP that Cain made unwanted sexual advances to her while she worked for the association, and a pollster said he witnessed Cain sexually harass another woman after an association dinner.
Kraushaar’s complaint at the immigration service prompted managers to use caution when writing and speaking to Kraushaar while the complaint was being investigated, another former supervisor told the AP. Two supervisors said Kraushaar asked a colleague to act as a witness when she had conversations with one manager after she filed her complaint.
The complaint at the immigration service was “nobody’s business,” Kraushaar said, because it was irrelevant to her sexual harassment settlement with Cain years earlier. “What you’re looking for here is evidence of an employee who is out to get people,” she said. “That’s completely untrue.”
Kraushaar, who started her career in Washington as a reporter, was praised for her work in 2000 when she traveled to Miami to help agency officials during the coverage of the Elian Gonzalez case, when federal agents seized the boy from relatives to return him to his father in Cuba.
“Ms. Kraushaar’s assistance was invaluable and her performance extraordinary,” wrote Robert A. Wallis, the immigration service district director in Miami. Kraushaar provided seven such letters of recommendation to show that her performance was commendable while working at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the restaurant association and the immigration service.
Contributing, Associated Press