US & Canada

Sharon Bialek's ex backs her claim against Herman Cain

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHerman Cain stumbled in an interview on Monday about his position on Libya

The former boyfriend of a woman who accuses Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of groping her has corroborated her story.

Speaking at a news conference, Victor Zuckerman said Sharon Bialek told him Mr Cain made an unwanted advance shortly after it allegedly happened.

Mr Cain's lawyer said there was nothing new in the claim, which he denies.

Meanwhile, Gloria Cain, the candidate's wife, appeared on US television to defend her husband.

'Inappropriate manner'

In other developments on Monday:

  • Mr Cain stumbled badly during a video interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper about his position on Libya, saying: "I've got all this stuff twirling around in my head."
  • Opinion polls suggest the sexual harassment claims could be taking their toll - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich overtook Mr Cain in one national survey on Monday. And an ABC News/Washington Post poll found negative opinions of Mr Cain had risen sharply
  • Eyebrows were raised over an interview Mr Cain gave to GQ magazine in which he said most American Muslims held extremist views. (He had to apologise in March after saying he would not feel comfortable appointing a Muslim to his cabinet)

The former pizza executive who has never held public office strongly denies allegations of sexual harassment from his time as head of a restaurant lobby group in the 1990s.

Ms Bialek is one of four women who accuse him of improper behaviour.

Speaking at Monday's news conference in Louisiana, Mr Zuckerman, a paediatrician, said Ms Bialek had told him about the alleged incident shortly after it took place in 1997.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSharon Bialek accuses Herman Cain in a New York news conference last week

"She said that something had happened and that Mr Cain touched her in an inappropriate manner," said Mr Zuckerman. "She said she handled it and didn't want to talk about it any further.

"When Mr Cain came to the national spotlight, we reminded each other that this was the man we had met so many years earlier."

Mr Cain says he has never met Ms Bialek.

Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing Ms Bialek, accompanied Mr Zuckerman at the news conference and urged Mr Cain to "come clean with the American people".

Mr Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, dismissed it as "a step in a media campaign strategy to attack Herman Cain in the court of public opinion".

Gloria Cain, the candidate's wife of 43 years, appeared on US television on Monday night to defend her husband.

"I'm thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said," she told Fox News.

"To hear such graphic allegations and know that that would have been something that was totally disrespectful of her as a woman and I know that's not the person he is," she added. "He totally respects women."

More on this story