WASHINGTON (AP) — The recurrent theme of questions for the woman who has publicly accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment is not why him, but why now.
Making the rounds of morning television news shows Tuesday, Sharon Bialek was asked repeatedly about her motives in coming forward against the pizza business executive and Republican presidential hopeful years after the incident of sexual harassment that she alleges.
She said she was “embarrassed” by the incident and wanted to move on. Bialek said she had nothing to gain financially, and in fact wasn’t even paying a fee to Gloria Allred, the nationally known attorney whose name has become synonymous with women’s rights issues. And Bialek said she decided to go public at this time mostly because her 13-year-old son told her to.
Bialek steadfastly defended her assertion Monday that Cain had made an inappropriate sexual advance toward her, years ago, while the two were in a car and at a time when she was out of work and seeking his help.
“I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” she said in one interview. Bialek said she was neither paid nor offered a job to go public with her allegations. She said she waited so long to come forward because “I was embarrassed … and I just kind of wanted it to go away.”
Bialek said she encountered Cain at a tea party event earlier this year. “I shook his hand, and he remembered me,” she said. “He looked a little uncomfortable.”
Bialek acknowledged in another appearance that she faced dire financial difficulties a decade ago, and that she had filed for bankruptcy protection. But she said her decision to speak out about Cain was not financially motivated.
“It’s not about me. I’m not running for president,” Bialek said.
Asked about Cain’s characterization of her charges as a “total fabrication,” Bialeck stood her ground, saying she went public because “I wanted to give him a platform to come clean, to tell the truth.”
She said, “I was trying to be nice about it and it just didn’t work.”
Cain said late Monday there was “not an ounce of truth” to her accusations. He plans to answer questions in greater detail at a news conference later Tuesday in Phoenix.
Bialek said that one of the reasons she came forward to tell her story was that her 13-year-old son thought she should. “My biggest fan is my son. …. I called him and I said, `Nick, what do you think I should do?’” He said, `Mom, you have to do the right thing. I think you need to tell on him.’”
“That confirmed it for me,” Bialek said. “If my son is saying it I want to be the role model for him and for other kids growing up that this is not appropriate behavior.”
Bialek acknowledged money problems. “I have had bankruptcy and it was after the death of my mother, to help my father pay for medical bills, and a custody battle. Like millions of other people out there I was struggling. I could have sold my story but I didn’t.”
Bialek appeared on CNN, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’s “The Early Show” and NBC’s “Today” show.