Juneau Diocese Pays Former Alaskan Who Said He Was Abused

Associated Press, carried in Grand Forks Herald [Los Angeles CA]
July 2, 2004

JUNEAU - The Catholic Diocese of Juneau has agreed to pay $175,740 to a former Juneau resident who said he was sexually abused by a priest more than two decades ago.

Joel Post, who now lives in Duluth, Minn., said the Rev. Michael Nash sexually abused him numerous times between 1979 and 1982, according to a statement from the diocese.

Nash's attorney, Louis Menendez, said the former Juneau priest is attending law school at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and was neither involved in nor notified of the settlement. Nash denies any wrongdoing, "without equivocation," Menendez told the Juneau Empire.

He said Nash would have been happy to address the charges openly in court.

"The American Catholic Church should not be viewed as a slot machine that pays off on allegations. ... The American Catholic Church deserves more," Menendez said.

Bishop Michael Warfel, head of the diocese, could not be reached for comment. A statement from his office said the settlement was not an admission of liability, but an agreement to avoid litigation against the church.

The statement described the settlement as "a compromise of a disputed claim."

Post filed a formal complaint against the diocese on Nov. 22, 2002. He said he and his family moved from Wisconsin in 1978. He said he was abused from age 11 to 15. Nash headed the youth group for the church at the time, according to Post's statement.

Nash came to Alaska to enter the seminary in 1978, according to information he supplied the Juneau Empire in 2002. He was a deacon with St. Paul's Catholic Church until his ordination as a priest in 1980. He ministered in Juneau, Ketchikan and Petersburg.

When the church received Post's formal complaint, Nash was ministering at the Cathedral of the Nativity. He denied the accusations in a written statement and voluntarily stepped aside while the allegations were being investigated.

Post requested financial compensation late last year to cover physical and emotional harm, according to the diocese statement. The settlement was determined through a mediation process proposed by the diocese.

A Juneau lay committee looking into the allegations and possible disciplinary actions sent its findings to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome. According to Warfel's office, the diocese is awaiting a reply.

Canon law prevents Nash from acting as a practicing priest while he is the subject of a Vatican investigation.