[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Update: The PJ Media article now has significant corrections that undermine the believability of the original account and the certainty that sex occurred. Not their finest moment. Thanks to narciso in the comments for pointing that out.
So PJ Media (a.k.a. the website formerly known as Pajamas Media) has the scoop on the details of one of the allegations against Herman Cain, and if true, it’s pretty bad:
Adding to the ongoing Herman Cain sexual harassment controversy, two sources have now confirmed to PJ Media that a female employee of the National Restaurant Association told associates she had been brought by Mr. Cain to his Crystal City, Virginia residence where she alleged “he had taken advantage of me.”
Now let me point out a few issues that the lawyer in me can’t help but notice. First, I assume “take advantage of” means sex (and my definition of sex includes a “Lewinsky”) and PJ Media is either being coy, or letting sources get away with coyness. Please don’t. If they had sex, say that, so there is no needless ambiguity.
Second, assuming I am right on the first point, then the timeline goes like this. Cain pressures the woman to have sex with him, she capitulates… and then she goes to HR, hires a lawyer and sues? That sounds odd to me, although the answer might be that something might be missing. Like maybe something happened to buck up her courage or something like that. But unless there is something missing, that timeline seems weird. If she is going to challenge Cain about it, wouldn’t the time be before she slept with him? But again, more facts might illuminate the matter.
Third, and this is something I have been meaning to say all along: settling doesn’t mean very much. That goes double when insurance companies are involved. For instance, years ago my mother was the victim of an auto insurance fraud. Two con artists intentionally struck my mother in her car, and then claimed she was at fault when the police arrived. Despite this, the insurance company settled the claim, and paid the men and about ten years later when the fraud ring was busted, the insurance company humbly apologized and paid her back about a decade’s worth of higher premiums. On the corporate insurance level, I have been involved with companies where there was strong evidence that the claim was entirely fraudulent and where a single subpoena of the right person would have revealed the fraud, if it existed. But the insurance company didn’t bother to do even that much, and paid off the plaintiff.
But I also wanted to make another point. Now even these allegations are kind of fuzzy right now on the “how” of the seduction. Did they just have sex that night? Did she feel that because of his position it was an inherently coercive situation? Did he seem overbearing, but it was ambiguous about whether he was trying to use his position to obtain sex?
Or did he do the full quid pro quo (“something for something”) and say, “sleep with me or you are fired/won’t get that promotion, etc.?” Now I want to be careful to say that we are not nearly there, yet, but if that is what it was, then it’s not just “sexual harassment.” Seriously what do you call it when you give something of value in exchange for sex? In most states, that’s prostitution. It certainly is under the Virginia Code (where the conduct occurred) as of today. Indeed, I have read of cases where Virginia attorneys offered for their clients to pay them in sex instead of fees, which then led them to be arrested for soliciting prostitution.
Which feeds back to my original observation; it is strange that she let it go that far and then reported Cain’s conduct. But like I said, maybe that account is incomplete.
Finally, the PJ Media article explains why the woman’s name is kept out of their piece. I can accept that, but why keep out their sources? I think we deserve a word or two on that subject.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]