Is It “Sexual Harassment” Or “Sexual Assault”?

Sharon Bialek has now come forward as the first women to publicly accuse presidential candidate Herman Cain of what she is referring to as “sexually improper” acts.† Unlike the other three women who have in the past alleged that Cain sexually harassed them, Bialek has presented her account, providing intimate details of the alleged actions.

Now that those details are public, however, many are beginning to wonder if this is not actually a case of “sexual harassment” as it had previously been portrayed, but a story about an alleged sexual assault attempt instead. “Instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said, what are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isnít what I came here for. Mr. Cain said, you want a job, right?”

One lawyer states that if the exact details of that account were true, that would be prosecutable as assault and battery in D.C.† Via Talking Points Memo, “If prosecuted at the time, Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialekís allegations could have qualified as both sexual harassment and assault and battery according to a DC employment lawyer, Debra Katz.”† Slate writer Dave Weigel also refers to the account as sexual assault, as Cain “drove her to the NRA’s D.C. office, and then attempted to take advantage of her.”

Zerlina Maxwell agrees, “‘Sexual assault occurs when “someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent.’ Bialek’s description of Mr. Cain’s alleged actions certainly seem to match the legal definition.”

Another of the previous accusers agrees that Bialek’s account sounds very familiar, and her lawyer states that it “corroborates the claim” of his client, although he will not go into specifics about whether Cain physically and inappropriately touched his client.

So we are left with a myriad of questions to be answered.† The first, of course, is whether the accusations are true, and the second being how many women, if this is true, has this happened to.† But now we need to add an even more important one, which has no relation to Cain at all.

Why would anyone call an incident with these details anything BUT sexual assault?† If a man puts his hands on a woman’s genitals without her permission, and tries to force her head down to his crotch, that is attempted sexual assault.† It doesn’t matter if it’s two strangers, a boss and subordinate, a first date, or a long term relationship.† Attempting to force a sexual act is not harassment.† It isn’t “sexually inappropriate behavior.” And it most definitely isn’t a “bold sexual advance.”



Photo from Gage Skidmore via flickr creative commons


David K.
David K6 years ago

"TSA does it every day thousands of times a day. Where’s the outrage?"

My question as well. I think alot of people DO feel outraged but are afraid to report it because, if they complain, they might be thrown into prison as (potential) terrorists... or maybe terrorist sympathizers, who knows? This "War on Terror" is one of many examples of how our rights are being eroded.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm6 years ago


You better check how many signing statements Bush made while in before you mock Obama


Kelly W.
Kelly W6 years ago

They would be crucifying Obama? Lol. He can lie, blame his failed policies and actions on Bush, have almost a trillion dollar stimulus package fail, 4 years of 9-16% unemployment,break the law, ask the american people to report to him if they bad mouth his policies, control the media, hire paid 'czars' who answer only to him and so on and so on. The media reorts s@it.

Ira L.
Ellie L6 years ago

it is almost comical how the tbaggers jump to Cain's defense. If this were Obama they would be crucifying him. Tsk Tsk. Cain is guilty as sin. Thinks he is untouchable because he is backed by the kockroaches billions, but guess again, "Mr. lying tbagger -- You're toast!"
Cut from the same cloth as the un-justice Clarence Thomas who did the same thing to Anita Hill, and big-time money put him on the Supreme Court -- but not for long -- He will soon be impeached!

Barbara Ann English
Barbara english6 years ago

It is very scary how people are tried in the FREE(?) Press. In the USA, a person is INNOCENT until proven guilty and had I been Mr. Cain I would have gotten the best darn liable lawyer in the land, too. If these harassments are true, these women should have handled this a long time ago - not in the middle of a national presidential campaign. The only people who will ever know the truth are the people involved. Besides, back in the early 90's there was so much sexual harrassment going on in offices that if everyone had been prosecuted, there would be nobody walking the streets. Let's look at who Mr. Cain is TODAY.

Paul B.
Paul B6 years ago

William... what are you talking about? These stories have been front page news for two weeks now, trumping every other international story including the fact that Israel may soon be launching attacks against Iran, the Congressional hearings about Fast and Furious, and several others.

How can you that Cain would be a "would be King" when we have Obama enacting legislation via executive fiat. The boy king is a shining example of what happens when you put a spoiled brat, entitled incompetent into a position of power.

Cain EARNED his respect throuhg dedication and hard work unlike the affirmative action prodigy Obama.

And you are the only person I have seen mention anything about multi-million dollar settlements. Everything I have read so far has stated that they were under $100,000, one was only $35,000 and they were severence agreements, not lawsuit settlements.

It is trash talk like yours that gives Liberal ignorance the label that it does. And I am ashamed that no other Liberal has called you out on your obvious fabrications and misstatements.

Lexa G.
Lexa G.6 years ago

Nancy, you're quite silly. Race has little to do with how actually voting goes. It's which candidate's ideas for how to run the country best mesh with the ideas of the voting public. You sound like skinny blond skeletor by bring racism into politics when its not the case.

Cain wants only small bills in congress, 3 pages or less. For the complexity of laws, it should have the same criteria as gradeschool papers? He things that adding an additional 9% federal sales tax will save the economy, something which would add nearly $2 to every $20 that an American spends. Then he wants to tax break the rich and stick people living below the poverty line with a tithing they can't afford. He wants to befriend the wealthy while leaving behind everyone who didn't get the breaks he got.

William K.
William K6 years ago

Fact: These sexual harassment suits exist.
Fact: These claims were settled out of court, to the tune of several million dollars. This indicates that there is credibility to the claims, because if they were unsubstantiated, it would have been cheaper to go to court.
Fact: Cain does not want any information about these cases to come to light. He is engaging in a campaign of intimidation to keep people from talking about it.

From this information alone, without even getting into the details of who did what to whom, I can see how Cain conducts himself in a position of power. Were he to be elected, which is not likely, he will abuse the power of his office.

William K.
William K6 years ago

Cain claims that he has done nothing wrong, yet tries to shut down every attempt at transparency. He has even hired the nation's top libel lawyer to intimidate the media into not reporting on this story, and it seems to be an effective strategy, as stories of the scandal have all but disappeared from the news cycle.

As someone who aspires to public office, he needs to aspire to a higher level of transparency. Unfortunately, he seems accustomed to the idea that executive power is absolute, and that it is there to be enjoyed. "It's good to be king!" seems to be his attitude. He is an extreme risk for abusing government power. He is an impeachment waiting to happen.

Nancy L.
Nancy L6 years ago

Obama lovers don't want him to run against a black candidate - he'd lose votes he might have gotten otherwise from black republicans.