Story highlights

Cain says he didn't remember ever knowing Bialek when she publicly accused him Monday

A Chicago radio host saw Bialek and Cain talking together on October 1

Bialek spoke Monday of the Chicago encounter with Cain

Washington CNN  — 

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain said he didn’t remember ever knowing Sharon Bialek when she went before TV cameras Monday to accuse him of sexually groping her in 1997, but the two were seen talking last month.

A Chicago radio host told CNN Wednesday that she saw Bialek approach Cain at a tea party event on October 1, and the pair engaged in a conversation that day.

The account by Amy Jacobson of AM560 WIND in Chicago, first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, corroborates Bialek’s version of the October meeting provided at Monday’s news conference.

After describing the alleged unwanted sexual advance by Cain 14 years ago, Bialek described to reporters Monday her most recent encounter with the former businessman now seeking the GOP presidental nomination.

“I went up to him and asked him, ‘Do you remember me?’ ” said Bialek, who worked briefly for the National Restaurant Association’s education foundation when Cain was head of the parent organization in the late 1990s.

“He acknowledged that he remembered me from the foundation, but he kind of looked uncomfortable and he said nothing as he was whisked away for his speech by his handlers,” she said.

In a telephone interview, Jacobson said Wednesday that Bialek assertively made her way backstage at the October 1 event and encountered Cain.

According to Jacobson, Bialek approached Cain and said hello, and he smiled and they briefly embraced, then stood talking together.

“It was more like she put her arms around him. She didn’t corner him, but I can use the basketball term, boxed him out,” Jacobson said of the encounter.

Jacobson said she was unable to hear the conversation, which continued until an event organizer interrupted them to hustle Cain on stage for his speech.

“She talked to him for a few minutes, which made me kind of mad because I wanted to talk to him,” Jacobson said.

While unwilling to characterize the encounter, Jacobson said that Cain looked “stone-faced” after his initial smile.

“There was a smile, and then things got tense,” Jacobson said of the encounter.

On Tuesday, Cain told reporters he had no memory of having met Bialek when he saw her on television at Monday’s news conference in which she went public with her allegation against him.

“My first response in my mind and reaction was (that) I don’t even know who this woman is,” Cain said. “Secondly, I didn’t recognize the name at all.”

Cain said he “tried to remember if I recognized her, and I didn’t.”

“I tried to remember if I remembered that name, and I didn’t,” he said. “The charges and the accusations, I absolutely reject. They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen.”

The groping accusation by Bialek, as well as sexual harassment allegations by two other former employees of the restaurant association who received payouts and left the organization in the late 1990s, have overwhelmed Cain’s front-running campaign in the Republican race.