Latest on LPD public information officer’s sexual assault lawsuit

A third lawsuit has been filed against the Lincoln Police Department from a former female employee.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A third lawsuit has been filed against the Lincoln Police Department from a former female employee.

Public information officer Erin Spilker is the latest to come forward.

Spilker has been with LPD for nearly 20 years.

In December, Spilker sat behind former LPD officer Sarah Williams at a city council meeting, as Williams tearfully described what it was like working at the department.

“Some days I didn’t want to be alive any more,” Williams said. “So I quit, because I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I quit because I value my own safety.”

In a 34-page lawsuit, Spilker alleges sexual assault by two different co-workers. One instance at her home in 2014 and another at a holiday party in 2015 by an officer referred to as ‘Officer D’ in court documents.

According to the lawsuit, Spilker did not report these assaults at the time because of fear of retaliation from other officers.

The court documents say that former Chief Jeff Bliemiester was made aware of Officer D’s sexual assault of Spilker by a former police sergeant in January of 2020.

Spilker was identified anonymously in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Williams in November of 2020, prompting an investigation into the alleged sexual assault.

Later that year, Spilker informed Bliemiester that she had been assaulted by multiple officers during her time with LPD.

The lawsuit claims that the investigation into Officer D’s sexual assault was not thorough or complete.

Spilker alleges several instances of discriminatory treatment against women by the Lincoln Police Department including unclean facilities for mothers to nurse their children, inappropriate messages from firefighters and disruptive political arguments.

Channel 8 reached out to LPD for comment on Spilker’s claims.

In a statement, Police Chief Teresa Ewins said:

As the Chief of the Lincoln Police Department, I was aware of pending complaints from members of the department prior to my appointment.  We take these complaints and lawsuits very seriously.  The Lincoln Police Department has investigated all complaints, regardless of when and where they occurred, that were brought to our attention with interviews of members of the organization and members of the public, review of records, and electronic data, when available.  Speaking generically in regards to all the complaints and not to any one member of our department, where a violation was found, proper disciplinary action was taken by the department.

Officer Spilker is not the subject of any investigation.  Previously, Officer Spilker filed a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency responsible for investigating complaints of workplace discrimination. The Lincoln Police Department provided a response to all of her allegations, to include documentation of our internal investigations.  Before the EEOC’s investigation was complete, Office Spilker voluntarily withdrew her complaint in order to file a lawsuit in court.  Now that this case is before a court of law, the City will defend the actions of this department and its members where appropriate, and disclose any actions taken.

The department has strong policies that prohibit misconduct, to include criminal actions, discrimination and harassment.  The department provides mandatory training on the importance of inclusion, diversity, professionalism, and ethics.  The department takes prompt action when misconduct is brought to our attention.  However, if misconduct is not reported, the department cannot act.  When misconduct occurs outside of the department that violate policy or are criminal in nature, the department will act when these events are reported.  Employees who witness or become aware of criminal acts or misconduct are required by department policy to report these actions.  Employees who are victims of crimes are encouraged to make a report to the department or other appropriate law enforcement agencies.  Non-criminal misconduct can also be reported to a variety of independent investigating agencies.   Employees are continuously made aware of these resources and their duties.

The men and women of the Lincoln Police Department work diligently each day to serve this community. Even though these lawsuits have been looming for a period of time, I believe in this department and its members. I ask the public for patience and continued support of our members.

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