Diocese committee meets with man alleging abuse

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau Diocese lay committee has met with the man who has accused a priest of sexually abusing him in the early 1980s.

Joel Post said he was treated ''fairly and with respect'' during the two meetings he had last week with the 10-member panel investigating the allegations against the Rev. Michael Nash, former pastor of the Cathedral of the Nativity. Post testified before the committee Wednesday and again Saturday.

The lay committee was established by the diocese last summer to investigate claims of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese.

Post said Nash was not present for his testimony. Post also declined comment on details of his statements to the committee.

Nash voluntarily stepped down from his pastoral duties in November when Post sent a written statement to the diocese claiming Nash raped him over four years beginning when Post was 11.

Earlier this month the committee issued a written statement saying it still is investigating Post's claims and had found sufficient evidence to back several additional claims of inappropriate behavior by Nash from other individuals.

The committee forwarded its findings to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome to determine whether the new allegations meet the church's criteria for sexual abuse of a minor. If the doctrinal congregation decides Nash is guilty according to church law, he will be defrocked, Juneau Bishop Michael Warfel said.

Nash's civil attorney, Louis Menendez, had no comment on Post testifying. In past interviews, Menendez has said Nash maintains he is innocent of all allegations, the Juneau Empire reported.

In a written statement to the Empire, the Rev. Pat Travers, spokesman for the lay committee, declined comment on Post's testimony.

''For very serious reasons, it is important that this matter remain highly confidential at this time,'' the statement said. ''Bishop Warfel, with the assistance of the Review Board, is continuing to investigate Mr. Post's allegations against Father Nash. At this point, I would not be able to speculate about a timetable for this investigation, even if I were authorized to do so.''

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