A Spokane police officer accused of sexually assaulting a victim of domestic violence had a “common practice” of giving out his personal cellphone number to other victims and communicated inappropriately with at least two women he met while on duty.
That’s according to court documents made public after Nathan R. Nash’s first court appearance on Tuesday.
Investigators say Nash, 36, used his position as a police officer to develop personal relationships with female victims, according to court documents.
After the sexual assault allegations against Nash were made public in late October, two other women came forward to report that the officer also reached out to them.
Nash, through his attorneys Rocky Treppiedi and Chris Bugbee, has denied the sexual assault allegations.
“We will defend any and all charges at trial, and look forward to full exoneration,” Treppiedi wrote in a statement issued earlier this week.
Nash has been on paid administrative leave since the day of the incident.
One woman told investigators Nash turned off his body camera during a May domestic violence call and gave her his personal cellphone number, court documents say. Then she said Nash continued to contact her about the case in an attempt to advance a personal relationship.
She said Nash complimented her body, asked her to meet, friended her on Facebook, “liked” suggestive photos she posted of herself and asked her to send him photos, court documents say. She said Nash became “creepy” and “too needy” with his messages and that it appeared he wanted to start a relationship with her.
Another woman, who volunteered with the police, said Nash slipped her a crime victim card with his number on it while she was working. On the card Nash had written a note asking her to text him, court documents say. She said she texted Nash for four days in October. She gave the texts to investigators.
One message from Nash said he would give her “caffeine or pat on the butt” to boost her mood, court documents say. Other messages suggested he wanted to give her “a naked backrub” and that he says exactly what’s on his mind “unless I’m on body camera.”
Nash made his first court appearance Tuesday, when more records regarding complaints by the other women were released.
The allegations of sexual assault against Nash were made Oct. 23, after the father of the victim reported to the Spokane Police Department an incident that happened earlier in the day, according to court documents.
The suspected sexual assault occurred during a follow-up interview from a domestic-violence related assault that the victim reported eight days prior, according to court documents. Nash responded to the woman’s residence after she reported her boyfriend choked her. Her father was at the scene during that initial investigation.
The woman told investigators she was trying to learn where to turn in evidence photographs and medical paperwork for her case but was unable to reach Nash through the contact information on a victim information card, according to court documents. She said Nash called her from a restricted number at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 23 and asked if there was a private place to meet for him to examine the bruises on her body.
The woman said she suggested her apartment but asked for a meeting after 11 a.m., when her mother would be home, but Nash was in a rush and wanted to meet before her mother arrived, according to court documents. He arrived around 10:45 a.m., the woman said.
Nash told investigators he had already arrested her ex-boyfriend at this point and told the woman additional photos of her injuries likely would not affect the case, according to court documents. He said he does not follow up on domestic violence cases often, collect digital evidence or respond to incidents without a call for service.
Once in the woman’s bedroom, she said she described bruising on her body while going through her cellphone photos and pointing out easily accessible marks on her arms, neck and hip, according to court documents. She said Nash subsequently asked her to fully pull down her pants and remove her underwear.
The woman told investigators she thought the directions were inappropriate but followed them because he was a police officer, court documents say. Then she said Nash penetrated her with his fingers and she panicked but thought, “Maybe this was part of what he’s supposed to do.”
After about 30 seconds to a minute, the woman said she told Nash to stop and that her examination was done, court documents say. Then she thought Nash was trying to get her to take her shirt off when he started asking about bruises on her neck and chest.
Nash recalled a different series of events, according to court documents. He told investigators the woman pulled down her pants and underwear, then she placed his hand on her genitals.
When he removed his hand, Nash said the woman looked embarrassed, mad or upset, court documents show.
Just after 11 a.m. the woman tried to call her father while hurrying Nash to leave, according to court documents. She said Nash gave her an “awkward side hug” and his personal cellphone number as he left. She said she gave Nash her father’s phone number.
During the encounter, the woman said Nash did not attempt to document her bruises or the photos she provided, according to court documents.
Call logs show the woman called her best friend and her mother within 10 minutes of Nash leaving, according to court documents. The woman said she told them what happened with Nash.
Those documents also allege Nash made efforts not to record his whereabouts on the day he is accused of sexually assaulting the victim.
Nash said he did not activate his body-worn camera during the interaction because he had privacy concerns and did not know SPD’s specific policy, court documents say.
Nash also said he did not tell his supervisors or other officers about the sexual contact with the woman to spare her embarrassment over the incident, according to court documents. After the incident he contacted dispatch to create a follow-up call so he could go to the address of the original domestic violence call and recover the woman’s property for her.
Investigators later learned there was an unusual 36-minute gap in location records for Nash’s police vehicle, according to court documents. His last recorded location before the incident was at the northwest substation at about 10:40 a.m., then it jumped to Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue at 11:15 a.m., missing an hourly log at 10:58 a.m. A Spokane County IT administrator concluded the tracking software had been closed and restarted.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation. The results of that investigation, now closed, were turned over to prosecutors.
Nash faces charges of second- and third-degree rape and one official misconduct charge.
Superior Court Commissioner John Stine ordered Nash to surrender any weapons he owns and not communicate with any law enforcement officers about his case, including with Spokane police internal affairs for the administrative investigation the department opened.
Stine said Nash’s wife could keep any firearms she owned after Bugbee, Nash’s attorney, argued that she might have justifiable concern to arm herself based on the allegations against her husband.
Stine said he could not hear any argument to reverse Commissioner Nichole Swennumson’s decision to release Nash from jail on his own recognizance over the weekend. Stine said setting bail for Nash would require a motion or new information to be filed in the case.
Nash’s jury trial was set for Feb. 18.
It would be the second trial of a Spokane police officer accused of sexual assault within the last year.
A jury found former Sgt. Gordon Ennis guilty of second-degree rape last March for sexually assaulting another police officer in 2015. That trial began in late February and included some of the same investigators as the Nash case: Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives Brandon Armstrong and Robert Satake.
Another Spokane police officer, Chris Conrath, was suspended for 30 days in 2016 after he had a sexual relationship with a woman days after responding to a domestic violence report from her.
One of Nash’s attorneys, Treppiedi, a former assistant city attorney, was fired in 2012 following complaints about the controversial tactics used to defend officers involved in the Otto Zehm case.
Nash was hired by the Spokane Police Department in 2018 and trained at the basic law enforcement academy, according to Sgt. Terry Preuninger, a police spokesman. He joined the Spokane police after more than a decade working as a part of the Department of Energy special response security team for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, according to Nash’s LinkedIn profile and a Hanford employee newsletter.
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