Nebraska Patrol accused of forcing female candidates to undergo vaginal exams

Nebraska Patrol accused of forcing female candidates to undergo vaginal exams
Female recruits for the Nebraska State Patrol were forced to undergo exams that were “medically unnecessary and sexually invasive” before being hired, according to a lawsuit filed by one trooper.

State Trooper Brienne Splittgerber, 37, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Nebraska State Patrol, the state of Nebraska, two former patrol heads and various other people, accusing them of permitting and covering up the sexual assault of female candidates, according to the Associated Press.

Splittgerber said she was required to undergo a pre-employment physical exam in September 2014, where she was told to “remove her pants, lay on her back on the examination table, bend her knees to put her feet flat on the table and open her knees exposing her genitalia,” according to the Omaha World-Herald.

She also alleges that other female recruits were forced to undergo vaginal and rectal examinations for years, while the same was not required for male recruits.

“Subjecting the plaintiff and other female trooper candidates to a medically unnecessary and sexually invasive procedure is outrageous conduct which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit reads, according to AP.

Splittgerber complained to her superior officers after her personal physician told her that there was no legitimate medical purpose for the exam. She was told an investigation was being conducted, but was disturbed when she learned other female candidates “continued to be required to submit to the unnecessary and humiliating examination,” according to the Herald.

“At that point, it became clear the plaintiff’s concerns were being dismissed and the events covered up,” the lawsuit said, the Herald reported.

Wendy Wussow, the patrol’s legal counsel wrote in an email to Gary Young, a Lincoln attorney who represents the State Troopers Association of Nebraska, that the exams were simply a “hernia check,” the Herald reports.

However, Dr. Karen Carlson, an OB-GYN with Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, told AP that “there would be no reason to look in the genital or anal area” for a hernia check.

“We might have them loosen their pants, but I wouldn’t think there would be any need to disrobe,” Carlson said.

Taylor Gage, a spokesman for Governor Pete Ricketts, said immediately after learning of the allegations, in June, “the Governor instructed his Chief Human Resources Officer to review this matter, which has subsequently resulted in a criminal investigation by the State Patrol.”