Charles Herbster sues Sen. Julie Slama, whose lawyer says she’ll ‘stand strong’

By: - April 22, 2022 7:36 pm

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, April 20, defending himself from allegations that he groped eight women. He has denied wrongdoing. (Screenshot from news conference)

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster filed a District Court lawsuit Friday against State Sen. Julie Slama in her home county.

The move came a week after Slama, also a Republican, confirmed in news reports that Herbster had reached up her skirt and touched her without consent at a political event in 2019. 

The Johnson County lawsuit asserts that Herbster is the victim of a “politically motivated and groundless attack” and that Herbster seeks to “defend his reputation and good name.”

Slama’s attorney, Dave Lopez, said Friday evening that Slama, who represents District 1 in southeast Nebraska, had not been served with the lawsuit.

He said that any claim that calls into question her account would be “categorically without merit and frivolous.”

State Sen. Julie Slama
State Sen. Julie Slama of Sterling debates on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature. (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

“Senator Slama will stand strong against any attempt to weaponize the judicial process to scare victims from coming forward to share the truth,” said Lopez, a partner with Omaha-based Husch Blackwell law firm.

The Nebraska Examiner reported April 14 that Slama was one of eight women who alleged that Herbster had groped them. 

Slama was the only woman who came forward by name. The others spoke on the condition that their names be withheld. The Nebraska Examiner grants anonymity to those alleging sexual assault, unless they consent to be named. 

The Examiner corroborated the women’s accounts with people who said they witnessed the incidents or were told about them by the women immediately afterward.

After the Examiner’s report, Slama talked about the 2019 incident on KFAB radio.

This week, three people came forward in the Examiner to publicly confirm three of the women’s accounts.

Herbster, CEO of Conklin Co., said in the lawsuit that Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has actively supported one of Herbster’s campaign opponents. The lawsuit noted that the governor appointed Slama to be a state senator when a vacancy emerged. She took office in January 2019. Herbster owns a home and a farm in Slama’s district.

Slama and Ricketts have rejected Herbster’s claims that the groping allegations were politically motivated.

In the lawsuit, Herbster said that Slama acted with “actual malice” and that her remark constitutes “slander per se” because her accusation relates to a “crime of moral turpitude.”

The lawsuit asks for damages “in an amount to be determined at trial, fees and costs, and such other relief as may be appropriate.”

Herbster vs Slama 3

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.