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Former boyfriend of Cain accuser backs her account

By Kevin Bohn and Tom Cohen, CNN
updated 5:44 AM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ex-boyfriend of Cain accuser says she was distraught after the alleged incident
  • The accuser, Sharon Bialek, went public with her groping allegation last week
  • Cain's wife says she can't believe he'd do what Bialek alleges

(CNN) -- A former boyfriend of Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialek said Monday that she told him in 1997 that Cain touched her inappropriately after the pair had dinner together in Washington.

Dr. Victor Zuckerman told a news conference that Bialek came back to Chicago from the trip and told him what happened.

"When she returned, she was upset," Zuckerman said a news conference arranged by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. "She said that something had happened and that Mr. Cain had touched her in an inappropriate manner."

Allred is representing Bialek and arranged her public airing last week of the sexual groping allegation against Cain.

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Bialek said the unwanted sexual advance by Cain occurred in 1997, after she had been laid off by the National Restaurant Association's Educational Foundation. At the time, Cain served as CEO and president of the association.

Bialek was the first accuser of sexual misconduct by Cain to reveal her identity, giving details of what she described as Cain touching her inappropriately when she sought his help in finding a job.

According to Bialek, they went out to dinner and the groping incident took place in a car ride afterward.

"He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch," Bialek told reporters last week. "I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said, what are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for. Mr. Cain said, 'You want a job, right?' I asked him to stop, and he did."

Zuckerman, a pediatrician, described himself as a registered Republican who is not supporting any candidate so far in the 2012 presidential campaign. He said he neither asked for nor received any money for going public with his support for Bialek's account of what happened.

When he heard of the sexual harassment allegations against Cain, first reported by Politico on October 30, Zuckerman called Bialek to ask if she was involved, he told the Monday news conference.

She told him no, but Zuckerman said when Bialek heard Cain's denial of any sexual harassment in his past, she was "livid."

"She felt she had to speak out," he said.

After Bialek made her accusations last week, Cain denied them in his own news conference.

"I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period," Cain said. He said he watched Bialek's news conference and "my first response in my mind and reaction was, I don't even know who this woman is. Secondly, I didn't recognize the name at all."

Cain said of Bialek's allegations, "They simply didn't happen. They simply did not happen."

However, Cain and Bialek were spotted holding a conversation at a tea party event in Chicago on October 1, less than six weeks before Bialek went public with her allegation. Bialek had described that meeting at her news conference.

Now Zuckerman also corroborates other aspects of Bialek's account, including that she told Zuckerman about the incident with Cain shortly after it happened and that she and Zuckerman had spoken at length with Cain at a party one night while she still worked for the restaurant association foundation.

Meanwhile, Cain's wife told Fox's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" that she doesn't believe the sexual harassment allegations against her husband.

"I know that's not the person he is. He totally respects women," Gloria Cain said in the interview that aired Monday night.

Responding to Bialek's allegation, Gloria Cain added: "I looked at especially this last lady and the things that she said and I'm thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that she said."

"I know Herman. I know him," said Gloria Cain. "I seriously in my soul don't think he's that type of person."

A second accuser, Karen Kraushaar, last week also talked publicly about her accusations after some media reported her identity.

Kraushaar and her attorney were trying to arrange a news conference with the four women who have made allegations against Cain, but they failed to reach the two accusers who have remained anonymous. No joint news conference by the accusers is planned as of now.

A new national survey of Republicans released Monday showed Cain's support falling due to the sexual harassment allegations.

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll, Cain received 14% support in the poll, well back of frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Cain's support was down 11% from last month.

"Cain is struggling with the charges of sexual harassment, and while most Republicans tend to dismiss those charges, roughly four in 10 Republicans think this is a serious matter and tend to believe the women who made those charges," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

The survey indicates that only a bare majority of Republicans tend to believe Cain, and more than a third say he should end his presidential campaign. Among the general public, Cain has a bigger credibility problem -- 50% of all Americans say they tend to believe the women and only a third say they believe Cain.

"Not surprisingly, there is a big gender gap on this matter -- women say this is a serious matter and believe the women, but men say the story has been overblown and are split on which side they believe," Holland added.

Cain's campaign said last week it has raised $9 million since October 1, compared to $2.8 million in the three-month period from June-October.

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