Another Woman Goes Public with Accusations of Groping Against Republican Gubernatorial Candidate

Republican Charles Herbster has faced several allegations of sexual misconduct from those in his own party

Nebraska candidate for governor Charles Herbster greets guests before the start of a rally with former President Donald Trump on May 01, 2022 in Greenwood, Nebraska.
Charles Herbster. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

Just two weeks after a Nebraska lawmaker came forward with other women to publicly accuse Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of once groping her, another woman has publicly stepped forward with similar allegations against the candidate.

Herbster, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has denied the claims.

In April, Republican state Sen. Julie Slama was among eight women to tell The Nebraska Examiner that Herbster, a leading contender in the GOP primary race, touched them inappropriately. While the women remained anonymous in that initial story, Slama identified herself once the story was published.

On Sunday, a second woman publicly identified herself as an alleged victim of Herbster. Elizabeth Todsen, a former state chair of the College Republicans, told the Examiner that she was 23 years old when she attended a 2019 fundraiser for the local Republican party.

While at the dinner, Todsen said Herbster greeted those seated at her table, shaking hands with the men but pulling her into what she called "an aggressive" embrace.

"It was more than a hug," Todsen told the outlet. "His hand went to my butt. It was a grab. At that point, I tried to push away, but I couldn't. It was like he knew that I couldn't say anything."

Combat veteran Edward Boone — who was also in attendance at the dinner — backed up Todsen's story to the Examiner.

State Sen. Slama offered a similar story to Todsen, telling the Examiner that, at the same 2019 Republican Party dinner, Herbster reached up her skirt and touched her as she walked by him. Another person who attended the event backed up Slama's story, describing it similarly.

Herbster's campaign disputed the accounts, with a spokesperson telling the Examiner: "We are going to stick by our statement that Charles 100 percent denies these allegations."

The politician himself has suggested on social media that the claims — six of which the Examiner corroborated with at least one eyewitness — are the result of the "the establishment machine within my own party."

He called the women's stories "100% false," according to The Omama World-Herald. (Herbster did not respond to PEOPLE's request for clarification or further comment.)

After Slama went public, Herbster filed a defamation lawsuit against her, seeking damages "in an amount to be determined at trial, fees and costs, and such other relief as may be appropriate," the Examiner reports.

Days later, Slama counter-sued Herbster, claiming sexual battery. Slama is seeking damages for damage to her reputation and to cover psychological care.

Seeing the way Slama has been treated by Herbster's campaign, Todsen said, inspired her to step forward with her own claims.

"It just made me so mad," Todsen told the Examiner. "Seeing her be out there by herself, and ultimately just being bullied and discounted, I said, 'It's time to do what's right.'"

In the wake of the allegations and Herbster's suit against Slama, four Republican state senators announced last week they had launched a fundraising effort to cover potential legal costs for anyone who might come forward with credible allegations of sexual impropriety against Herbster.

On Sunday, former President Trump appeared at a rally for Herbster, who he said had been "badly maligned and it's a shame."

Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual assault in the past (which he also denies), told the crowd at the Nebraska rally: "It would have been easy for me to say, 'I'm not gonna come.' I defend my people when I know they're good."

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