Because I believe sexual assault is a serious crime, I want to be clear about why I think Sharon Bialek is a full-of-shit opportunist. She alleges that in 1997 she was harassed by Herman Cain, but in reality she's saying she was assaulted. This is an important distinction from harassment. I'm oversimplifying a bit, but harassment is a workplace condition where someone makes inappropriate gestures, comments, suggestions, or attempts to coerce sexual favors predicated on getting something in return, or "quid pro quo" harassment. Telling a female coworker she has a nice rack could be harassment, but only if the comment is unwelcome. Telling someone you'll promote them or give them a raise if they sleep with you is quid pro quo harassment. In the corporate environment, there's a pretty wide latitude about what is considered harassment. All someone has to do is say something made them uncomfortable, or they feel the workplace has become 'hostile' and Human Resources will raise red flags all over the place. Often, the company will run a calculation on what it will cost in lost productivity of the people involved, litigation expenses, and other tangible costs, and if that number is greater than, say, one year's salary for the complainant, the company will offer them that amount to just go away, typically with the person signing a non-disclosure agreement and covenant not to sue, which then protect the company from further action. This doesn't do anything to confirm or deny the guilt or innocence of the accused; it's simply the most cost effective way for the company to end the incident. Until Sharon Bialek stepped forward, these were the types of accusations described against Herman Cain. Often, the person filing the claim is looking for a cash settlement, or knows they're about to be fired, so they throw a charge of harassment like a hand grenade, hoping to save their position or get something (CASH!) on their way out the door. Personally, if I were the victim of workplace harassment, it would take a lot more than a year's salary to get me to shut up...I would want heads to roll. This happens even if the person is the president of the company. Just ask Mark Hurd, formerly CEO of HP. The legitimate cases of harassment I have overseen in my career in management were from people who were wronged, had evidence, and simply wanted the harassment to stop and the harasser to be appropriately punished. No cash was offered, no settlements proposed.
What Sharon Bialek is alleging happened is not sexual harassment. She claims Cain put his hand under her skirt in an attempt to fondle her genitals, then pushed her head towards his lap to encourage oral sex. She fought him off and after she emphatically said no, he backed away. This is called attempted sexual assault. This is not a matter to report to the person's employer; this is a matter for the police, yet no police report was filed. So here we have he said/she said anecdotal evidence with no actual proof and no corroborating witnesses being used to defame a political candidate. But why? Here are a few things we know about Bialek:
- She is a single mother of a 13 year old
- She had just been fired from the National Restaurant Association one month before the alleged groping incident
- She's serially filed for bankruptcy; first in 1991 and again in 2001, just four years after she lost this job.
- One of her creditors in the second bankruptcy was a lawyer who represented her in a paternity suit, and she owed them more than $17,000 when she filed
- Since 2001 she's had five liens filed against her for more than $21,000
- She says she did not file a claim for harassment or notify the national restaurant association like the other women had because she had lost her job. While she doesn't go on to say this, the implication is that she considered this option but there was nothing it it for her
- She gives an unusually specific detail about the event, saying that she booked herself a hotel room in the Capital Hilton (202-393-1000) and when she checked in, her room had been upgraded by Cain to a suite. (Another version of this story I have read is that her then-boyfriend (who suggested she go meet with Cain) had booked the room, so there's some inconsistency here)
- She waited over eight days after the other reports of harassment until she had a high-profile celebrity lawyer by her side before coming forward
- She's in the middle of a series of job interviews with WIND radio, with a second interview scheduled for Thursday this week
- She last saw Cain a month ago at an event in Chicago and approached him (she says) to see if he would come clean about his actions from 14 years ago
Maybe it's the cynic in me but the picture I see forming is that of a woman who has a decades long history of financial problems, some of which may likely have been precipitated by losing her job at the NRA while Cain was the organization's president. She's interviewing for a position in radio and has a teenager to support. There are two things you can call a person to discredit them; racist or sexual predator. Since the race card cannot be played against Cain, we're left with someone trying to turn him into a Kinsey-esque figure who runs around willy-nilly laying hands on women (ask Clarence Thomas about this tactic!) Bialek, with her financial troubles, her history with the NRA, and pending interviews with WIND radio, is a prime candidate to pay off to spread a false story, either benefitting directly from a cash payment (Soros I'm looking at you) or via the astronomically raised profile she'll enjoy from this (unless she's proven to be a liar). If she becomes the 'Able woman who slew Cain" you can imagine the book deals, the job offers, etc that will be coming her way. And hey - she's being represented by Gloria Allred, so despite ostensibly being a registered Republican (I wonder for how long) she will automatically be the darling of the left.
The serial bankruptcies and liens make me suspicious as well. This is noteworthy because I only know a handful of people who have filed for bankruptcy. I don't know anyone who has had one lien filed against them (let alone 5), and Bialek has multiples of both. The only person I know who has filed bankruptcy more than once lived way beyond his means and filed every 8 to 10 years as a matter of course. I think it's important because she claims to be a Republican and a Tea Partier, and these behaviors do not typify the fiscal conservancy and personal resposibility that are the calling cards of the Tea Party.
If her allegations are true, why did she not go to the police when it happened? There's no money in that, but it would have certainly created a bulletproof piece of evidence that something happened. Instead we're left with virtually unprovable allegations.
Why did she wait EIGHT DAYS after the initial allegations came out - until she had a celebrity lawyer at her side - to come forward? If she's been stewing over this for 14 years, to the extent that she ambushed Cain 30 days ago in Chicago (well BEFORE the other allegations), why did she have to read the statement from a sheet of paper yesterday, sounding like she'd never read it before. I could recite the details of her 'ordeal' more convincingly than she did, and I haven't lived through it.
I also find the whole setup of that initial meeting odd. She'd just been FIRED from the NRA. Fired. Given the boot. Ejected. Her next move is to request a meeting with the president of the company to get help with her job search? Is that normal? I've never been fired from a job so I don't know, but I have a hard time believing that he would have taken that meeting under those circumstances. If I were president of a large organization, I would not meet an ex-employee like that. Heck, I've managed a team of 40 people and I wouldn't even go out for drinks with them because of what can happen (side note - this is management 101, and is drilled into us during new manager's school, and I have personally benefitted from following this policy on more than one occasion). The few times where I had to fire someone, or had peers fire someone, there is no way on earth I would have met any of those folks for dinner a month later. That scenario just SCREAMS of being a set-up. If I know that, I have a hard time believing Cain wouldn't know that.
She claims that Herman Cain upgraded her hotel room. This is a very specific detail that, if true, could add a piece of credibility to her story. I've called the hotel to ask if they can confirm this information but they've transferred me to the hotel's HR department where I got voicemail, and they've not returned my call (nor am I optimistic that they will). If this is disproven, however, it shreds what little credibility she has.
The way this is playing out is very reminiscent of the James O'Keefe/Andrew Breitbart method used to take down Acorn, where every day a new revelation is revealed and over the course of several days an insurmountable pile of evidence demands attention. In the case of Acorn, this approach was necessary because the media initially was willfully ignorant of the issue, but Breitbart forced them to look. In this case, the problem is the opposite; the media is paying attention to nothing BUT this story, and there has yet to be one single, provable piece of evidence that Cain actually did anything wrong.
To sum it up, I think Sharon Bialek was desperate to get her job back, thought she could coerce Cain into making it happen back in 1997 (IF that dinner actually happened) and that plan failed. A bankruptcy, a paternity suit and five liens later she's finally in a position to get her revenge against the man she sees as having derailed her career, so she jumped on the chance to bring the man down.
Unfortunately, the media has been all too willing to help her, and the damage has been done. The guys and gals at MSNBC have been on the edge of orgasm since this story broke, and they've already convicted him. Cain has been taken off message, forced to respond to these allegations and has dropped in the polls as a result. Even if proven completely false, these lies are out of the gate and the adage is 'a lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth catches up.' Herman Cain is the first candidate to forcefully attack two of the power bases that government uses to control we the people - the tax code and social security. As such, he is dangerous to all politicians, not just those on the left, though they have much more to lose than the GOP does if these tools are taken away from them. Because he's so threatening to the establishment, it is more important than ever that his supporters rally to his side.