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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

‘It was horrible’: Woman recounts rape during trial testimony against former Spokane police officer

Aug. 23, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 24, 2022 at 4 p.m.

Former Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash, who is on trial for multiple counts of rape along with official misconduct and unlawful imprisonment, listens during his trial Wednesday at the Spokane County Courthouse.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Former Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash, who is on trial for multiple counts of rape along with official misconduct and unlawful imprisonment, listens during his trial Wednesday at the Spokane County Courthouse. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Punctuated by deep breaths, a 41-year-old woman told a Spokane jury Tuesday morning how a former Spokane police officer raped her while in uniform.

“It was horrible and it was scary,” the woman said of the rape, which she testified happened July 2019.

Nathan Nash, 39, is on trial for multiple counts of rape as well as unlawful imprisonment. Another woman, accused Nash of sexually assaulting her under similar circumstances in October 2019. She testified about her assault last week.

Testimony on Tuesday from investigators also recounted how they suspect Nash wiped his cellphone in September 2019 and turned off police-issued laptop software that tracked his location during the alleged rapes.

On July 5, 2019, a Spokane woman called 911 to report that her neighbor had beaten her. Nash and another police officer responded. Body camera footage of that initial interaction was shown in court Monday.

The day after she reported the assault, the woman said Nash called her to set up a follow-up visit where he would photograph her bruises. During that call, Nash told her to wear a dress, the woman said. The Spokesman-Review typically does not name victims of sexual assault.

Nash arrived a short time later and mentioned to the woman that there had been an officer-involved shooting, so all other officers were busy at the time, she told the court.

He then went to look at a bruise near her knee, the woman said. Nash then lifted the woman’s dress and put his hand in her underwear, before pushing her onto the couch, she said.

“I was kind of shocked and everything,” the woman said. “And I got scared.”

At the time, Nash was wearing his full police uniform, she said.

When the woman pushed Nash away from her on the couch, he grabbed her hands and put them on the side of the couch in front of her, she said. He then undressed her, she told the court.

He then opened the zipper on his uniform, the woman said.

“I got scared and I kind of closed my eyes,” she said.

The woman said she was scared to fight Nash, because he was armed and in uniform.

“I didn’t want to fight him because he was a police officer,” she said.

Nash proceeded to rape her, the woman told the court with a shudder.

Afterward, Nash took the woman to her bathroom, where she was scared he was going to drown her, she told the jury. So she said she tried to run. However Nash pulled her back and made her shower while he cleaned himself off with a tissue, she said.

“He was smiling in the mirror like he was proud of what he did,” the woman told the court.

The woman finished showering and dressed, she said. Nash asked for a glass of water, which she got for him in a “daze,” she said.

“I was shocked at what happened to me,” she told the court.

She didn’t tell anyone about the rape in the weeks following the attack, the woman said. She did text Nash in hopes of getting help with her neighbor, who she said was still harassing her.

The woman said that while what Nash did was horrible, she hoped he might protect her from her neighbor.

About a month later in August 2019, Nash came over to the woman’s apartment again, this time not in uniform, she said. He said he would help with the neighbor but instead the two had sex, which the woman said was consensual.

“I needed him to protect me,” she said.

The woman also testified about her mental health history, which includes anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and possibly bipolar II disorder. She also said she has a learning disability and multiple head injuries that made it difficult to complete school.

Nash’s defense team indicated they intended to call witnesses to testify about the victim’s mental health.

On Monday, Mark Voigtlander, a data analyst for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, testified that when he looked at a download of Nash’s phone, it was “uncharacteristically” empty, likely due to a factory reset that wiped the data from the phone on Sept. 27, 2019. The reset came just days after the woman texted Nash upset about the rape, Voigtlander testified.

There were also gaps in the GPS signal from an application on Nash’s work laptop, used by dispatch and other officers to track each other’s locations.

However, another officer testified the application was notoriously glitchy, causing users to have to restart the application frequently.

On Tuesday, Nicholas Madunich, a former information technology specialist at Spokane County, said there was no indication of a glitch during those periods and that all available information points to Nash shutting down the app.

Spokane police Cpl. Holt Widhalm, who trains officers how to use the application among other types of training, said officers are taught to keep dispatch apprised of their location at all times while on duty either via the app or radio, due to officer safety concerns.

He also testified that corporals are supposed to be called to take photos of victim’s injuries, and that it’s not common for officers to perform that duty.

Nash’s trial will resume Wednesday.

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