WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain admitted Monday to being accused of sexual harassment while at the helm of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, but denied ever engaging in such activity.

Cain decried a report that said the association had reached settlements with two women who lodged sexual harassment claims against him as part of a “witch hunt” associated with his recent surge in the polls.

“I have never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association,” Cain said in an interview on Fox News, his first comments on the Politico story from Sunday. “I say falsely because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless.”

Cain sought to forcefully dispute the story, which said Cain had been accused of sexually suggestive behavior toward at least two female employees during his time as head of the restaurant lobby.

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