Polygraph launched probe of deputy suspected in sex assaults

This undated booking photo released by Johnson County Sheriff's Office shows Nicholas Bridgmon. The Nebraska sheriff's deputy charged with sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago now is linked to at least five other victims before he joined the department in 2015. Court records tie Bridgmon, a Seward County deputy, to the additional women but he hasn't yet been charged in those cases. The investigation began when a polygraph test administered by another department he was seeking to join showed deception on his part. (Johnson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska sheriff's deputy charged with sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago now is linked to at least five other potential victims, and the investigation began with a polygraph test for a state patrol job he was seeking.

Nicholas Bridgmon, a Seward County sheriff's deputy, is charged in Johnson County with forcible sexual assault, which allegedly occurred Dec. 1, 2006. Bridgmon has been placed on administrative leave, and his attorney didn't return a message Thursday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Authorities have said the other alleged assaults listed in court records occurred in several unspecified counties.

A court affidavit in support of the charge says an investigation began when he was applying for a job with the Nebraska State Patrol. A pre-employment lie detector test in November showed some deception on his part.

A patrol investigator says in the affidavit that Bridgmon later acknowledged that when he was 19, he'd had sex with two girls who may have been under the legal age of consent. He also said he'd had sex with women who'd slept heavily or passed out after drinking alcohol.

Bridgmon's boss, Sheriff Michael Vance, said Thursday that Bridgmon was given a polygraph test before his hiring in November 2015. He doesn't know what questions the two polygraph operators asked or what questions may have tripped up Bridgmon on the state patrol exam.

A lie test isn't fail-proof, Vance said, but it can be useful in making hiring decisions.

"It helps, especially with people you don't know," said Vance, who became sheriff after his election in November. He also said there have been no allegations of criminal conduct against Bridgmon since his employment by Seward County.

State patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said he couldn't share what questions the patrol polygraph operator asked.

The court affidavit includes a woman's recounting of what she said was her rape by Bridgmon when he was 19 and she was 17 in or around July 2007. She said he groped her in his car as they drove away from her parents' home and then raped her at a remote location outside the Johnson County community of Cook. The village sits about 51 miles (82 kilometers) south of Omaha.

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