Gubernatorial candidate Charles W. Herbster does not plan to attend a deposition planned Friday at the Johnson County District Court in his legal fight with state Sen. Julie Slama, according to statements from his campaign.
Herbster’s campaign spokesperson Emily Novotny said in a text message that scheduling the interview for Friday was “clearly intended to take Charles off the campaign trail just days before the May 10th primary election.” She confirmed that Herbster, who heads Conklin Co. and other businesses, will be campaigning in western Nebraska Friday (Chadron, Alliance and McCook).
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Herbster filed a defamation lawsuit against Slama last month, after the Nebraska Examiner reported allegations from eight women who said Herbster had groped them in recent years. Slama was the only named accuser at the time, but another accuser, Elizabeth Todsen, has come forward and used her name since.
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Slama filed a counterclaim alleging battery. Court documents at the time showed she gave notice to depose Herbster on May 6.
As of Thursday morning, Slama’s attorney Dave Lopez said that Herbster was “under a current legal obligation to appear at the Johnson County courthouse to testify under oath at 9 a.m. tomorrow” and that his lawyers hadn’t taken any actions to change that. He was not immediately available for comment after The World-Herald received the Herbster campaign’s statement.
In her statement, Novotny accused Lopez of “playing politics with a very serious matter” and pointed out that Lopez is listed on corporate documents for Jim Pillen for Governor. Slama has endorsed Pillen, a hog producer and University of Nebraska regent, and Herbster has framed the allegations — in public statements and a TV ad — as a political hit job devised by Pillen and his most prominent backer, Gov. Pete Ricketts.
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“Charles W. Herbster looks forward to clearing his name through the appropriate legal venues at times agreed to by both sides, just like any other serious legal matter,” Novotny said. “He will not play Mr. Lopez’s political games.”
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