|My Turn: a Former Priest Responds to Charges
By Michael Nash
September 26, 2007
I'm writing to correct the false impression left by The Associated Press article, "Court rules former priest can take bar exam, despite allegations: Alaska man accused of abusing boy dismissed from priesthood in 2005," onSept. 23.
These allegations of abuse were made by Joel Post, a former parishioner, and were investigated thoroughly by the Lay Review Board convened by Bishop Michael Warfel. The Lay Board determined that I had provided evidence of unquestioned authenticity directly disputing Post's claims, and the board declined to forward Post's allegations for action.
Despite this finding, church spokespersons continued to report the Post allegations, and in April 2004 the Juneau diocese reached a $175,000 settlement with Post.
Because of this episode, and because of my treatment by the Diocese that stemmed from Post's allegations, in 2005 I reached a settlement with the Diocese in which I requested to be relieved of my priestly vows and obligations. It was this request that the Vatican accepted in November 2005, and which is characterized as my "dismissal" from the priesthood.
Meanwhile, I had enrolled in law school at Creighton University, graduating in 2006.
While still in law school, in 2005, I brought suit against Post for defamation. My sole purpose was to clear my name of his horrific allegations of abuse. To my utter astonishment, the Juneau Diocese responded by threatening me with excommunication if I didn't drop my suit. When I did not, the diocese participated in, and paid for, Post's defense. Moreover, as part of its strategy to support Post in my lawsuit, the Diocese took steps to oppose my application to the Iowa Bar. It was this opposition that led the Iowa Board of Law Examiners to initially oppose my admission to that state's bar - and which the Iowa Supreme Court has now reversed.
In October 2006, in an effort to put all this behind me and - more importantly - to help heal the Diocese, I reached a settlement with the Diocese. As part of this settlement, I dropped my lawsuit against Post, and Bishop Warfel issued the following statement dated Oct. 17, 2006:
"On behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, I hereby certify that Michael Patrick Nash, formerly a priest of this Diocese, has never been found guilty in any ecclesiastical process to have committed any sexual assault upon Joel Post. Mr. Post alleged that Mr. Nash had committed such assaults of many occasions between 1979 and 1982, but Mr. Nash responded by producing documentary evidence of unquestioned authenticity and authority that directly contradicted important details of Mr. Post's allegations. I then determined, in accordance with canon law, and upon the advice of the Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, that the truth of these allegations was insufficiently probable for me to submit them to the Holy See.
"Furthermore, the Catholic Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, does not oppose the admission of Mr. Nash to the practice of law. Nor do I oppose such admission to the practice of law personally."
Finally, please note that in its Sept. 21st filing, the Iowa Supreme Court wrote, "Upon our de novo review, we find Post's allegations are not supported in the record." And the Court concluded that "Nash has satisfied his burden to demonstrate his good moral character and fitness to practice law."
• Michael Nash is temporarily residing in Friday Harbor, Wash.
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