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“Crash Nash”

If you’ve forgotten the name “Crash Nash,” let us remind you of the case of Fr. Michael Nash. Incardinated as a priest for the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, he later served as the man in charge of recruiting seminarians for the American College of Louvain in Belgium. As we mentioned in a July-August 2003 New Oxford Note, the Official Catholic Directory for 2002 listed Nash as the number three man at the Belgian-based seminary run directly by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His job title: “Vice Rector for Recruiting.”

In November 2002 Nash was accused of raping an adolescent boy for four years running. His accuser, Joel Post, alleged he was repeatedly sodomized by Nash in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1980s. Post was aged 11 to 15 at the time. Just two months before Post made his allegations public, Nash was featured in a special report in the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 20, 2002) by Patricia LeFevere. She told us that Nash is a seasoned pilot: “Known as ‘Crash Nash’ to his flying mates,” she wrote, the priest served the Catholic Church in Alaska as “an air shepherd descending to a grateful flock along Alaska’s southern tail.” According to a November 22, 2002, article in the Juneau Empire, it was on these shepherding missions that Fr. Nash allegedly took advantage of the remote terrain for his own purposes: “Post alleges that Nash piloted a floatplane and took him on trips to various parts of Southeast [Alaska]. Allegedly, Nash would land in remote areas of Hoonah and Sitka to say Mass, [Post’s] statement said. ‘It was in this remote area that Father Mike [Nash] and I got out of the plane, walked a ways, and he pulled down my pants and raped me,’ Post said in the statement. ‘My body went completely numb and he kept telling me to relax.'”

The immediate response by the accused priest to Post’s gruesome allegations was emphatic denial. According to the Empire, Nash’s attorney, Fred Triem, dismissed Post as “not credible” and dismissed Post’s allegations as “imagined” and “fabricated.” The attorney suggested that Post simply had an axe to grind. Triem told the Empire that “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.” In other words, the strength of Nash’s defense was his attorney’s claim that Post is nothing but a vengeful and deluded crackpot.

In the months that followed, more information came to light about Fr. Nash. It turned out the priest had been sent away in 1990 to a New Mexico “treatment” center after former Bishop Michael Kenny received “an expression of concern” from a family at Nash’s parish. The treatment center, run by the Servants of the Paraclete, was itself a center of scandal. In 1994 the Paraclete Fathers were forced to close their disorders treatment center after paying out more than $8 million to settle sexual abuse lawsuits with at least 25 plaintiffs who alleged they were molested by priests who had been “treated” for “ailments” at the order’s facility.

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