- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Nebraska State Patrol trooper who alleged the agency’s commander torpedoed his chances for advancement.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2nXfcj3 ) reports the lawsuit was filed by Todd Steckelberg, who was a trooper for more than 25 years before he retired last year.

The suit alleged that Col. Brad Rice created a hostile work environment and passed Steckelberg over for a job to protect the governor because he feared Steckelberg “might run his mouth.” Steckelberg also alleged retaliation for reporting policy violations and accused Rice and others of infringing on his religious freedoms by requiring that he do a ride along with a State Patrol chaplain.

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard said the allegations weren’t supported by facts.

“The plaintiff’s unsubstantiated beliefs are no substitute for facts supporting his claim,” the judge wrote when dismissing the lawsuit late last month. “And more fundamentally, the plaintiff has still not alleged anything regarding the chaplain’s activities, particularly any religious proselytizing.”

Gerrard said he also couldn’t find any legal basis to conclude that being asked to ride in a car with a chaplain would qualify as a constitutional violation.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Lancaster County District Court and later moved to U.S. District Court in Lincoln. It stemmed from Steckelberg’s time in O’Neill when Rice was captain of Troop B, which covers north-central and northeast Nebraska.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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