Birds of a feather flock together. Former president Donald Trump will appear alongside Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster at a rally on Sunday. Both Herbster and Trump have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women.
A total of eight women have come forward to accuse Herbster of groping them without consent. So far, two of the accusers have identified themselves by name.
Elizabeth Todsen allowed the Nebraska Examiner to publish her name alongside her accusation against Herbster for the first time on Friday. She said that he touched her without consent at the 2019 Elephant Remembers fundraiser for the Douglas County Republican Party. A witness, Todsen’s friend, confirmed he saw the incident and asked her if she wanted him to confront Herbster. Todsen declined, not wanting to cause a scene.
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“It was just all a blur after that happened, because it was all I could think about,” Todsen told the paper. “I just remember sitting there, and we were listening to the speakers … thinking, ‘How do you support this man?’”
Todsen is the second alleged victim to allow her name to be used publicly. Earlier in the month, the Examiner published Todsen’s allegation, along with stories from seven other women, without naming her.
Eight women, including Todsen, have accused Herbster in the Examiner of inappropriate behavior, including groping and a forced kiss, at political events and beauty pageants. At first, only GOP State Sen. Julie Slama allowed her name to be published alongside her accusation.
Slama said that Herbster touched her inappropriately at the same 2019 dinner where Todsen said he groped her. According to the paper, in a ballroom full of attendees, Herbster “reached up [Slama’s] skirt, without her consent, and touched her inappropriately.” Three witnesses confirmed to the paper that they saw it happen. When the paper reached out to Slama to ask about the incident, she replied, “Yes, confirmed,” but did not comment further.
In another alleged incident, Herbster was photographed with his hand outstretched behind a woman, below waist height. The woman and a witness confirmed to the paper that Herbster was groping her buttocks when the photo was taken. Another accuser said Herbster behaved in a “creepy and controlling” manner after he touched her inappropriately. Per Nebraska law, inappropriate touching without consent and over their clothes is considered third-degree sexual assault.
Herbster, through his campaign manager Ellen Keast, “unequivocally” denied the allegations when the news first broke last month. “This is a political hit-piece built on 100% false and baseless claims,” Keast said, blaming the “political establishment” for “smearing and trying to destroy him with lies.”
“Charles W. Herbster has a lifetime record of empowering women to lead,” Keast said in a statement to the Examiner. “His company, farm, and campaign are all run by women. Despite leading hundreds of employees, not once has his reputation been attacked in this disgusting manner.”
In response to Todsen coming forward publicly, Emily Novotny, Herbster’s campaign spokesperson told the Examiner, “We are going to stick by our statement that Charles 100 percent denies these allegations.”
When the allegations became public, Trump started to advise Herbster and, according to Politico, told the candidate he was not fighting back hard enough. Trump also endorsed the candidate’s plan “to hold a press conference aggressively denying the allegations and pushing back at his adversaries,” Politico reported.
On Saturday, responding to Todsen coming forward, Novotny told the New York Times that Herbster “will be taking legal action” against her. He has also hired the same law firm that Trump has used, according to Politico.
In 2019, Herbster was a wealthy Republican donor who made much of his fortune selling bull semen. He is now running in Nebraska’s Republican gubernatorial primary. The other unnamed accusers say they did not want to be publicly identified because they feared his power and that he might retaliate against them for speaking up.
“Being a conservative Republican woman in politics, you just expect to be treated with respect,” one of the unnamed women told the paper. “To be treated in that way in a public event, in front of everyone, just to prove, I believe, that he could get away with it, and not having recourse, it’s terrifying.”
“I’m scared for any young women that he would be dealing with in the future. Don’t send your daughters to work for this guy,” said another.
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