Court Docs Show a Halt in Matt Schlapp Sexual Assault Suit

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The sexual battery and defamation lawsuit against conservative icon Matt Schlapp has stalled out, with a number of subpoenas and depositions for the case abruptly canceled this week without explanation.

The pause in activity, which The Daily Beast confirmed through court records and sources with knowledge of the events, strongly suggests that the parties have made significant progress toward a settlement.

The cancellations include witness subpoenas along with recorded depositions from Fox News host Sean Hannity and a young contractor for the American Conservative Union, the Schlapp-led group that organizes the influential Conservative Political Action Conference. Both depositions were previously slated for this week.

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The ACU was recently added as a co-defendant in the multimillion-dollar civil suit, alongside Schlapp and his wife, conservative commentator Mercedes Schlapp.

Republican campaign operative Carlton Huffman first sued the Schlapps last January, about a week after Huffman accused Matt Schlapp of “pummeling” his crotch against his will following a night of drinking in Atlanta about three months prior.

Huffman’s suit charged Matt Schlapp with sexual battery and further alleged that the Schlapps engaged in a smear campaign to defame him in response to his accusations. Huffman, who was working on Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign at the time of the alleged incident, only added the ACU to the suit in December 2023, claiming that the nonprofit was culpable for negligence by not taking action against Schlapp despite alleged knowledge of at least two reported instances of unwanted sexual advances.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Schlapp had floated a settlement deal in the low six figures last March. At the time, Huffman countered with a substantially higher number, which Schlapp rejected.

It’s publicly unknown if or when the parties ever renewed those talks, and the case docket in the circuit court for Alexandria, Virginia, did not reflect any official agreements as of Friday afternoon.

That docket had been bubbling with recent activity, however, including a flurry of subpoenas and witness depositions, The Daily Beast previously reported. But with a jury trial scheduled just three months away and a number of key depositions ahead—including Schlapp himself—that activity has come to a sudden halt.

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In late February, former CPAC communications director Ian Walters sat for a deposition, but this week’s depositions—for Hannity and CPAC contractor Turner Johnson—were both scrapped, without explanation.

The cancellations affected subpoenas to other CPAC employees as well as Walker campaign officials who had helped Huffman when he came forward to them the morning after the alleged assault.

The allegations have dogged Schlapp for more than a year, contributing to a precipitous drop in the influence of his once-storied organization, which for decades served as a pillar of the conservative movement and an incubator for new talent and policy platforms.

But conference attendance has plummeted, with top speakers and sponsors withholding support after the accusations, and ACU’s revenue has taken a major hit. After last year’s conference, the board of directors saw a mass exodus, with multiple top officials citing Schlapp’s response to the allegations and financial mismanagement as their reasons for leaving.

The Daily Beast has reached out to counsel for Huffman, Schlapp, and CPAC, and this piece will be updated with any future comment.

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