WASHINGTON — The women who have accused GOP contender Herman Cain of sexual harassment have agreed to hold a joint news conference to air their stories, one of their attorneys said Wednesday, a move that could fuel a controversy that has dogged the businessman's campaign for more than a week.
Joel Bennett, who represents federal employee Karen Kraushaar, 55, said in an interview that he was planning the news conference with Gloria Allred, who represents Chicago homemaker Sharon Bialek, 50. Details of the joint appearance have not yet been worked out, Bennett said.
Kraushaar's name became public Tuesday but she has not described the details of the alleged harassment at the National Restaurant Association, where she worked more than a decade ago. Bialek held a news conference Monday in which she accused Cain of groping her in a car after the two dined together in Washington in 1997. She was seeking job advice from Cain, then chairman of the association.
Cain has forcefully denied the sexual harassment allegations by Kraushaar, Bialek and two other, unidentified women, saying he did not recall even meeting Bialek. He vowed in a news conference Tuesday to remain in the presidential race.
Polls have shown Cain effectively tied for the lead in the GOP primary race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Bennett said Wednesday that "my client has decided to hold a joint news conference with as many of the women who complained of sexual harassment by Herman Cain as will participate."
Kraushaar, in a statement released by Bennett, said she had not yet heard from any women other than Bialek's attorney about allegations of sexual harassment by Cain.
"We are still hopeful that they will have the courage to come forward, but we completely understand if they choose not to," she said. "Anyone should be able to report allegations of sexual harassment without fear that their lives and careers will be put on public display and laid open to public scrutiny."
Bennett's comments came as GOP activists and leaders said they remain concerned about the allegations and the political fallout for Cain.
"My sense is that his candidacy is going to evaporate," said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. "At the end of the day, what people are going to say is he can't win" against President Barack Obama in the general election.
The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, denied Cain's assertion that Democrats are behind the allegations.
She said Cain "should step up and go beyond just his flat denials because they stretch credulity. . . . It's hard to imagine four completely different women, who have no previous connection to each other, would come forward separately, coincidentally."