Slama detailed what she has described as an “assault” in 2019 in an interview Thursday, the day the Nebraska Examiner reported that she and seven other women had accused the Republican businessman of groping them.
“As I was ... walking to my table, I felt a hand reach up my skirt, up my dress and the hand was Charles Herbster’s,” Slama said, her voice shaking, in an interview on News Radio KFAB in Omaha. “I was in shock. I was mortified. It’s one of the most traumatizing things I’ve ever been through.”
Slama added: “I watched as five minutes later he grabbed the buttocks of another young woman. ... This was witnessed by several people at the event.”
Slama talked of the intimidating, “huge power differential” in that situation between herself, then a newly appointed 22-year-old state senator, and “one of the biggest donors in the Nebraska Republican Party.”
Herbster has denied all the accusations as “libelous fake news” and is now threatening to sue to protect his reputation. He called the timing of the allegations just weeks before the primary suspect.
The Examiner corroborated six of the eight allegations with witnesses, the newspaper reported. All of the alleged incidents occurred between 2017 and this year, and involved teenagers to women in their 20s, according to the Examiner.
All 13 female state senators in the Nebraska legislature, including five Republicans, issued a statement Thursday condemning the “highly credible, corroborated allegations.”
“Sexual assault is despicable and damaging,” the statement added. “This is not a question of politics — it is an issue of character and basic human decency.” Herbster’s actions “make him unfit to serve,” the statement concluded.
Herbster, owner and CEO of Conklin Company and a sometimes beauty pageant judge, is currently a front-runner in the race for Nebraska governor, even though he has never held political office. He reportedly gave $1.3 million to Trump’s campaigns and attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally outside the Capitol with members of Trump’s inner circle.
The allegations against Herbster aren’t likely to shake Trump’s endorsement. Trump has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct. He was also recorded boasting about “grabbing” women “by the pussy.”
Omaha’s former mayor reportedly responded to the accusations by saying that he wanted to put Slama on the witness stand to ask her what she was wearing when she was allegedly groped. So Slama showed him — and emphasized to KFAB that “clothes don’t equal consent.”
Under Nebraska state law, touching a person inappropriately without consent on the outside of their clothes constitutes third-degree sexual assault.
The primaries for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor will be held May 10. The winner of the Republican primary was expected to win the general election in November.