The victim of an alleged rape by a former Spokane police officer described a 2019 encounter in an intense and emotional testimony before a jury Wednesday afternoon.
The encounter was the now 25-year-old victim’s second time meeting with then-Officer Nathan Nash, 36 years old at the time, she said. He responded to a domestic violence call several days earlier between the woman and her ex-boyfriend with another Spokane police officer and had been professional, the victim recalled. But that changed when he arrived at her apartment by himself on the morning of Oct. 23 for a follow-up call after the victim discovered additional bruising from the domestic violence incident, she said.
The victim brought Nash into the apartment she shared with her mother, who was at work at the time. She went to the bedroom to retrieve a list of questions for Nash and he followed her. After attempting to show Nash bruising on her hip by rolling down her jeans partway, she alleged that he inserted his fingers inside of her.
“I was terrified. I was stone,” she said through tears. “I didn’t know what to do, what to think.”
The Spokesman-Review generally does not name victims of sexual abuse.
Consent was never given, she told the courtroom. A moment went by and she managed to pull up her pants and tell him to leave, she said.
“I felt I needed to be as courteous and nice as I can just to get (him) out. I was scared as hell,” she said. “I just wanted to get him out of my apartment.”
Nash left the apartment with an awkward hug, she said.
“It was a police officer invading my space, my body,” she said. “I didn’t know what would happen if I tried to do anything.”
The woman told the courtroom she was terrified to call the police and instead called a friend and her mother.
“What are the odds that someone would believe me?” she asked.
Nash faces two counts of rape in the second and third degrees, as well as unlawful imprisonment.
The former Spokane police officer used his position in law enforcement to gain the trust of two women who were victims of violence and then sexually assaulted them, prosecutors told the jurors during opening statements of the trial.
“Protect and serve. That is what every police officer is expected to do every single day. That is the rule of police officers. It’s not just their slogan, it’s their guiding principle,” prosecutor Jerry Scharosch told the jury of five women and 11 men. “Nathan Nash did not protect and serve. He exploited his position as a police officer to rape these women.”
In addition, Scharosch and deputy prosecuting attorney Amanda Fry laid out their case that Nash, now 39, defied Spokane Police Department policy by failing to log his whereabouts with police dispatch and by not activating his body camera footage during both of the alleged rapes.
Patrol officers are not supposed to conduct follow-ups in that manner, according to department policy, Spokane police Lt. Steve Wohl testified in court on Wednesday. It is also a security risk and against department policy for officers to not report their current position to dispatch, Wohl said.
Wohl was also present when the woman’s father arrived at the police station to file a complaint about the incident on Oct. 23. The incident was turned over to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for investigation after that, he said.
Nash’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, told jurors there is not sufficient evidence to convict Nash and that the woman who testified on Wednesday had placed his hand on her body during the Oct. 23 incident, which Nash quickly removed.
During a break in the trial, an acquaintance of Nash could be heard in the hallway joking about the alleged victim’s tears, to which Nash laughed.
Nash had been a patrol officer with the Spokane Police Department for a little under two years when he was first arrested in connection with the Oct. 23 incident.
More women came forward after his arrest, accusing Nash of acting inappropriately while on duty. According to investigators, Nash would give his personal cellphone number to victims. One woman said Nash turned off his body camera during a domestic violence incident and gave her his personal number. He continued to contact her about the domestic violence case in an attempt to advance a personal relationship, she said.
Nash was laid off from the department in December 2019.
Records show that Nash’s handling of domestic violence cases was frequently called into question during his stint with the department. One lieutenant raised concerns after Nash refused to arrest a domestic violence suspect in possession of a significant amount of cocaine in June 2019 and gave the female victim his personal cellphone number, a sheriff’s office investigation said.
In August 2021, he was arrested again after a woman alleged he raped her in July 2019. Nash responded to a report that a woman had been assaulted and then gave her his cellphone number, the woman said. The next day, he returned to her apartment to take photos of her injuries, court documents said. The woman said Nash reached into her underwear when he was supposed to be looking at her bruises and then pushed her onto a couch and raped her.
The woman in that incident is said to have some disabilities and has a difficult time processing some events, Scharosch said. The woman continued to contact Nash after the incident and engaged in consensual sex weeks later, he said.
Nash’s trial is expected to last through the end of August.
The victim of the alleged rape from July 2019 is also expected to testify in addition to DNA experts.
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