A second woman who had accused Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster of groping her has revealed her identity and repeated the allegations.
Herbster, a Republican, allegedly groped eight women from 2017 to this year, the Nebraska Examiner reported earlier this month.
Republican state Sen. Julie Slama was the first of them to publicly reveal her identity. She described the alleged actions at a Republican dinner in 2019 as “one of the most traumatizing things I’ve ever been through.”
On Friday, Elizabeth Todsen, a former Nebraska legislative assistant, came forward to the Examiner, allowing her name to be used, and said she was groped by Herbster at the same dinner.
When the Republican megadonor greeted the people at Todsen’s table, she said, Herbster’s “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,” she said.
Todsen said she sat there, stunned, grappling with what had happened. “All I could think about [was] … ‘How do you support this man?’” she said.
“For years I have struggled with an experience I had with Charles W. Herbster,” Todsen said in a statement provided by her attorney to other media.
“This decision to come forward with my story has been extremely difficult due to my fear of repercussions from Charles W. Herbster, a powerful voice in Nebraska politics. But after thinking about this for years now, I know that it is time that Nebraskans know about the horrible actions,” she added.
Herbster, a corporate CEO with no political experience who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, has denied all the claims, insisting they’re part of a smear campaign to keep him out of elected office.
“We are going to stick by our statement that Charles 100% denies these allegations,” Herbster’s campaign spokeswoman, Emily Novotny, told the Examiner, referring to Todsen’s allegations.
Herbster has sued Slama for defamation; she has countersued for sexual battery. An aide said Herbster also plans to sue Todsen and anyone else who comes forward.
Todsen has hailed Slama’s courage for speaking out and called her a role model for other women in similar situations.
Slama lauded Todsen’s decision to come forward.
“I am so grateful for Elizabeth’s bravery in coming forward, even in the face of unimaginable threats and pressure from Charles Herbster and his supporters to remain silent,” Slama said. “Charles Herbster is a predator, and I stand with all of his victims, known and unknown.”
All 13 female state senators in the Nebraska Legislature, including five Republicans, issued a statement earlier this month condemning the “highly credible, corroborated allegations.”
“Sexual assault is despicable and damaging,” the senators said. “This is not a question of politics — it is an issue of character and basic human decency.”