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‘He needs to be held accountable’: CPAC chief Matt Schlapp’s accuser breaks silence in sexual misconduct case

Matt Schlapp

Matt Schlapp, chairman of CPAC, speaks at a press conference on the Protecting Children’s Innocence Act. (Sipa via AP Images)

The man who accused Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) chief Matt Schlapp of “aggressively fondling” his genitals has stepped forward in a remarkable Washington Post interview.

“I’m not backing away,” Carlton Huffman, a 39-year-old Republican operative from North Carolina, told The Post. “I’m not going to drop this. Matt Schlapp did what he did and he needs to be held accountable.”

The Post reported that Huffman “provided texts, phone logs and videos” in support of his account, allegedly corroborating that he quickly shared the allegations with others.

In one of those videos, dated the night of the alleged incident, Huffman holds his hand to his forehead, darting his eyes to and from the cameras — and seemingly pushing back emotion — as he records what he describes as one of his most “ashamed posts.”

“Matt Schlapp, of the CPAC, grabbed my junk and fondled it at length, and I’m sitting there and saying, ‘What the hell is going on?'” Huffman says in the video. “That this person with a wife and kids, literally doing this to me.”

Early in the video, Huffman can be heard saying that he was documenting his encounter so that he’d have proof.

“I feel so f—ing dirty,” Huffman says twice, with the profanity bleeped both times in the footage.

Huffman’s press interview came weeks before a judge’s order forcing him to add his name to the public docket, the Post said.

Now that his identity has been ordered into the sunlight, Huffman reportedly has been forced to grapple with the racist writings of his past.

In what The Post described as a major blow to his reputation, an anonymous email account exposed Huffman glorifying the Confederate flag, blaming Black people and undocumented immigrants for crime and calling for “preserving European American culture in the United States.”

“That was an ugly chapter of my life that I am personally ashamed of,” Huffman told the outlet. “That is not who I am anymore.”

Shortly after the publication of The Post’s interview, Huffman experienced another blow to his credibility. North Carolina outlet WRAL News reported that two women accused him of sexual battery. A judge issued a stay-away order keeping Huffman away for one year from one of them, a housemate who claims Huffman performed unwanted sex acts on her and another woman. Raleigh police say the case was investigated and closed without charges, according to The Post.

Huffman told WRAL News that he was “innocent of improper conduct.”

More than a month has passed since Huffman filed his lawsuit against the CPAC leader and his wife Mercedes Schlapp in Virginia Circuit Court in Alexandria. His civil complaint accused Matt Schlapp of sexual battery and both him and his wife of defamation. Captioned Doe v. Schlapp, the complaint argued that anonymity was necessary to preserve his physical and mental well-being.

“Mr. Doe’s anonymity is not intended merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may attend litigation,” the 19-page complaint stated. “Instead, it is intended to preserve the privacy of the victim of a sexual battery. In addition, because Mr. Schlapp and Ms. Schlapp are well known, and in some quarters revered, amongst a portion of the population that has demonstrated a proclivity for threatening violence against those with whom they disagree, the identification of Mr. Doe poses an unusual risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm to Mr. Doe.”

The Schlapps successfully argued that they wouldn’t be able to adequately defend themselves without naming Huffman, who claims that the CPAC chief groped him in Georgia on Oct. 19, 2022. Both men had been in the Peach State on the campaign trail for then-candidate Herschel Walker.

Huffman says Schlapp invited him to dinner, first at the Capital Grille and then at a second bar called Manuel’s Tavern when Schlapp sought a livelier place.

“At Manuel’s Tavern, Mr. Schlapp sat unusually close to Mr. Doe, such that his leg repeatedly contacted and was in almost constant contact with Mr. Doe’s leg,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Schlapp was so close to Mr. Doe that he bumped into Mr. Doe’s torso where Mr. Doe had a Sig Sauer handgun holstered, asked about it, and professed an unfamiliarity with this weapon and firearms generally.”

Even though Huffman was driving, Schlapp encouraged him to have more drinks, according to the lawsuit. Huffman says that Schlapp then groped him on the ride home.

The Post reported that six of Huffman’s family members and friends — and three Walker campaign officials — confirmed to them that Huffman shared his accusation about Schlapp with them that night or the next day.

After the Daily Beast broke the story of Huffman’s allegations on Jan. 5, 2023, Mercedes Schlapp depicted the accuser as a troubled individual, an imputation that Huffman calls defamatory. The lawsuit seeks $9.4 million against the Schlapps for four separate causes of action.

Huffman and Schlapp’s counsel did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."