SHREVEPORT, La. — Sharon Bialek’s former boyfriend said Monday the then-couple spent an evening with Herman Cain in the 1990s. That countered the GOP presidential candidate’s earlier statements that he never met the woman who has accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior more than a decade ago.

“Sharon indeed did meet and spend time with Mr. Cain,” Victor Jay Zuckerman said.

In turn, Cain repeated his assertion that he had never met his accuser.

“I’m standing by what I have said,” Cain said in Green Bay, Wis.

Hours after Zuckerman stepped forward to give his account, Cain’s wife, Gloria, was defending her husband in a television interview as turmoil over allegations of sexual impropriety while he led the National Restaurant Association stretched into a third week.

Cain, trying to get back to a business-as-usual campaign schedule, gave an interview to the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but stumbled through a question on Libya. The video ricocheted around the Internet.

After saying he did not agree with President Obama’s handing of the revolt against longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Cain said he would have taken similar steps. But he hesitated before answering.

“I got to go back, see, got all this stuff twirling around in my head,” Cain said, shifting in his chair and crossing his legs during a 10-second silence.

Asked later about the moment, Cain dismissed it and told reporters: “I paused so I could gather my thoughts.” An aide later said Cain hadn’t had enough sleep.

It was another distraction for the candidate just as he was looking to get beyond questions about his behavior while he led the restaurant association more than a decade ago.