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Nebraska State Patrol investigators have identified five women they believe were sexually assaulted by a Seward County sheriff's deputy before he began a career in law enforcement, according to court documents.

Nicholas R. Bridgmon, 30, of Pleasant Dale, was arrested Friday by State Patrol investigators and jailed in Johnson County on suspicion of first-degree sexual assault.

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Corey O'Brien charged Bridgmon with one count of first-degree, forcible sexual assault Tuesday after the Johnson County Attorney's Office requested that another prosecutor be assigned out of concerns for an unspecified conflict of interest.

Whether additional charges will be filed wasn't immediately clear Wednesday.

Bridgmon remains on paid administrative leave as Seward County Sheriff Mike Vance conducts an internal investigation.

Since Bridgmon's arrest was publicized Friday, no allegations of on-duty misconduct have surfaced, Vance said Wednesday.

The investigation into sexual assault allegations against Bridgmon arose following a State Patrol polygraph examination completed as part of a job interview, according to court documents.

An affidavit for his arrest made public Wednesday provided the most-detailed glimpse yet into the case, which began Nov. 1.

After the polygraph examiner saw unspecified indications of deception, investigators explored suspicions he sexually assaulted women he knew, the affidavit said.

One woman later told investigators that Bridgmon sexually assaulted her outside of Cook in July 2007, when she was 17 and he was 19, according to the affidavit.

He had picked her up in his car and as they drove away he groped her, she told the State Patrol.

When she told him to stop and let her out, he kept driving, the investigator said.

He drove the car to a rural area, told her to get out of the car and he raped her, she said.

As he drove her back home, they saw her friends and Bridgmon told her to lie if they asked why she was crying, according to the affidavit.

She told investigators she hasn't spoken to him since 2013. To date, the investigation has led to four other potential victims. 

Those assaults occurred in different, unspecified counties, where prosecutors are reviewing the cases, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Attorney General's Office said.

Bridgmon made his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon, and a judge ordered him not to contact his accusers.

Bridgmon has been released from jail in Tecumseh on $50,000 bond.

If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison.

His attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Vance said the State Patrol informed him of the investigation the day Bridgmon was arrested. 

Vance's ongoing internal investigation into the matter will examine Bridgmon's hiring in Seward County in 2015 and what was known then.

Vance, who was elected sheriff in November, said the agency's deputies typically take a pre-employment polygraph with the State Patrol or Lancaster County Sheriff's Office.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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