OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Monday, Nebraska State Sen. Julie Slama announced through her legal counsel that she is countersuing gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster.
The county clerk's office in Johnson County confirmed that Herbster's lawsuit against the senator was filedon Friday. He's suing on grounds of defamation and as a way to defend his name for an unstated amount of damages. Slama's counterclaim is confirmed as filed through the Nebraska Judicial Branch's E-filing function by her legal counsel, Husch Blackwell LLP Partner Dave Lopez and Attorney Marnie Jensen. 3 News Now is working to confirm whether or not Herbster has been served with the suit.
"Although Herbster has stopped short of actually serving this lawsuit, and although it is defective in key respects, Senator Slama today filed an answer and counterclaim that refutes Herbster’s false allegations against her and claims damages for the sexual battery she suffered," said Lopez in an emailed statement.
Slama alleged that Herbster sexually assaulted her at a Douglas County GOP event in 2018 and was the only woman of the eight who leveled allegations against Herbster that were named in a bombshell report published by the Nebraska Examiner earlier this month. In the days that followed, others came forward on the record to corroborate victims who claimed to have been groped by the governor candidate. Herbster has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and called it a smear campaign against him during a self-organized press conference to address the accusations.
Slama's legal team argues that Herbster's lawsuit is "frivolous and in bad faith" and was essentially a way to draw widespread media attention because Herbster does not meet the requirements for proving libel as a public figure.
Public figures are held to a higher degree of criteria when suing for defamation and Slama's attorneys argue that their client's statements of sexual battery were true and do not meet the definition of defamation at its core.
"We will show this lawsuit for what it is: a frivolous and bad faith attempt to bully a sexual assault victim into silence. Charles Herbster chose to subject himself to Nebraska’s judicial system, and Senator Slama will hold him to that choice," said Lopez, who also said that Herbster has still yet to legally serve Slama with the lawsuit.
Slama's lawsuit, like Herbster's, also does not name the dollar amount of damages requested. However, it alleges special damages — such as to the state senator's reputation — plus, economic expenses such as psychological care, both of which are "accruing and their full extent is not known."
In addition, the non-economic damages listed include physical illness, emotional distress, "damage to Slama's mental and emotional health including depression, anxiety, preoccupation, fixation" and more.
The legal team representing Slama said it has served notice to Herbster for a deposition next Friday, May 6, and that it will be recorded on video at the Johnson County Courthouse.