Former Nebraska state trooper loses lawsuit over exam that she claimed was ‘sexually invasive’

LINCOLN — A  former Nebraska state trooper has lost her federal lawsuit in which she claimed she was subjected to an inappropriate, “sexually invasive” pre-employment examination of her genitals.

Brienne Splittgerber, who resigned from the State Patrol a year ago, filed suit in 2017, contending that female recruits — and not male recruits — were required to undergo an “outrageous” and “medically unnecessary” check for hernia that required them to disrobe and reveal their genitalia and anus.

But U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon ruled last week that Splittgerber failed to prove the exam was inappropriate.

“Other than the plaintiff’s hearsay statement, there is no evidence the physician in question did not perform similar examinations equally on males and females,” the judge also ruled.

Attorneys for the patrol said that both men and women were required to undergo visual exams for “abnormalities” in their genital and anal regions, and that such exams were not medically inappropriate.

Splittgerber’s attorney, Tom White of Omaha, said that initially, the state maintained that the genital exam was a “hernia check,” which raised questions because a visual exam is not sufficient to diagnose a hernia.

Splittgerber had maintained that the patrol fostered a hostile work environment because her superiors failed, for two years, to fully investigate her complaints about the exam.

The slow response to her complaint was among the concerns about the patrol revealed in a series of World-Herald stories in 2017. Splittgerber’s concerns were cited by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who ordered of a review of the patrol’s “policies, procedures and leadership” that eventually led to the firing of the State Patrol Superintendent Col. Brad Rice.

Splittgerber still has a claim pending before the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission. It claims that the patrol retaliated against her because of her lawsuit.

She maintained that she was denied an opportunity to apply for a vacant investigator post because she lived in Kearney, and then, just days after she resigned, applications from troopers stationed in Kearney were allowed.