During his debut on the Democratic debate stage in Nevada on Wednesday night, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was confronted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren about his alleged history of making crude and degrading comments toward women.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” Warren said. “A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Under pressure, Bloomberg reverted to a well-worn line of defense, dismissing his past language as a “joke.”

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But for some women who might wish to speak publicly about that conduct, now that he’s running for President of the United States, the consequences could be deeply serious. As Bloomberg has downplayed the nature of the allegations against him and his company, those who leveled allegations against him who are subject to a confidentiality agreements could face potentially significant financial exposure if they decided to speak.

Bloomberg and his company have so far resisted calls – most notably from Sen. Warren – to release those women from those agreements. On Wednesday, Bloomberg even implied that the women subject to the privacy agreements wanted to continue to abide by them.

But ABC News has spoken with several women who expressed interest in telling their stories, but feared the prospect of retribution from the company, including significant financial losses for violating the terms of their confidentiality agreement by speaking out.

READ MORE AT ABC NEWS

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