By David Eldridge
Donna Donella, one of the five women caught up in the charges of sexual harassment being leveled against Herman Cain, said Wednesday she is not an “accuser.”
“I take issue with being labeled in the media as 'Accuser No. 5,' ” she said in an interview with The Washington Times-affiliated “America's Morning News” radio program. “I want to make it very clear that Herman Cain never sexually harassed me, I’ve never accused Herman Cain of sexually harassing me. The only reason that I came forward is because I saw behavior, the one day that I met him … that was consistent with the pattern of his behavior described by his four actual accusers.”
The Cain campaign has been fending off allegations of sexual harassment by the GOP presidential candidate while he served as president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
At a press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tuesday, a defiant Mr. Cain said unequivocally that “I have never acted inappropriately with anyone — period,” and vowed not to let the accusations of misconduct drive him from the race.
Ms. Donella, an Arlington management consultant, met Mr. Cain at a 2001 business seminar in Cairo. After the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO gave a speech, Ms. Donella said he asked if she could arrange for him to have dinner with a young woman in the audience who had asked a question so that he could more completely answer her questions.
“He said he hated to eat alone, people hate to eat alone when they’re on business travel, I can understand that. But I wasn’t going to go to dinner with him alone because I had a feeling that there was a possibility that his intentions might not be pure,” said Ms. Donella, who was 31 at the time.
Her questioning of Mr. Cain’s motives, she admits, are based in large part on intuition.
“I can’t put a finger on it, but as most women will tell you, you kind of have a sense when men are on the up and up and when there are men who may not be. I had that feeling and so did my colleague, and that’s why she jumped in and said, ‘Oh, let’s all go to dinner.’ “
Ms. Donella, who said she is not a Democrat and “not a part of any political machine,” said she had hoped to remain anonymous when she came forward with her story about her interaction with Mr. Cain. After her name was included in a news story on the Cain sexual harassment allegations, she decided to speak to “America's Morning News” and also did a Wednesday morning interview on ABC.
“I didn’t ask for 15 minutes of fame. I certainly didn’t want 15 minutes of fame like this,” she said.
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