Abuse accusations against priest referred to police

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Juneau Catholic diocese is asking police to investigate sexual abuse allegations against a priest by a former Juneau resident who said he was molested as a boy between 1979 and 1982.

The accused priest, the Rev. Michael Nash of the Cathedral of the Nativity, says he is innocent but voluntarily stepped aside from his duties Friday while the allegations are investigated.

The accuser, Joel Post, now 35, alleges he was abused from age 11 to age 15. In a written statement sent to the diocese and the Juneau Empire, Post said he met Nash in the summer of 1979 when Nash was a deacon. At the time, Nash was the head of the youth group for the church.

Post said Nash piloted a floatplane and took him on trips to various parts of Southeast.

Post said Nash sexually assaulted him in those remote areas.

Post said he was unable to ''acknowledge or accept'' the alleged abuse until about three years ago. He said it was then he entered psychiatric therapy. He said he still is being treated for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and a dissociate personality disorder.

In an interview with the Empire, Post he didn't want to come forward with the allegations sooner because he wanted to wait until more of his memories of the alleged events came back. He reliving the alleged events was painful and made disclosure difficult.

''I just wasn't ready to talk about it to anyone,'' Post said. ''It's very difficult for me to talk about. ... I'm coming forward now because I want validation. I want the church to admit that this happened to me. ... And I think some compensation for the psychiatric bills I've incurred is in order since he was the one that made me like this. ... Although, even if that doesn't happen I just want validation.''

Bishop Michael Warfel said the diocese will send a written response to Post's allegations. Warfel contacted authorities Friday to begin an investigation.

''The church is not an investigative agency,'' Warfel said. ''My hope would be that people trained in investigating will handle this matter.''

Nash came to Alaska from Seattle to enter the seminary in 1978. He was a deacon with St. Paul's Catholic Church until his ordination as a priest in 1980. He has since ministered in Juneau, Ketchikan and Petersburg.

Petersburg attorney Fred Triem, who represents Nash, said Post was ''not credible,'' and the allegations were ''imagined'' and ''fabricated.''

Triem said Post may be trying to exact revenge for times Nash scolded Post and some other boys when they misbehaved in the church's youth group more than 20 years ago.



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