Standing in a Spokane courtroom Thursday morning, Tatyanna Presnell boldly addressed the ex-police officer who sexually assaulted her in her own home.
“I am rising out of the ashes and becoming a survivor,” Presnell said.
Nathan Nash, 39, was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison Thursday after a jury convicted him in August of raping Presnell and another woman during follow-up visits for physical assaults to which he responded in his role as a Spokane police officer.
Nash was convicted of third-degree rape of Presnell and acquitted of second-degree rape. She filed a claim against the city in September, alleging the police department ignored “red flags” in Nash’s behavior and allowed him to use his uniform to prey on women.
Another woman, who is now 41 and doesn’t want to be publicly identified, testified that Nash raped her on a follow-up visit, when she thought he was there to photograph her injuries. The jury convicted him of second-degree rape with aggravating circumstances in her case, finding that he violated the trust she had in him as a law enforcement officer.
Presnell and her family spoke emotionally about how the sexual assaults affected their lives.
Nash’s family was also present in the courtroom when he was sentenced.
Presnell, 25, said she was a bubbly child who always tried to see the best in people. When she was 22, she found herself in an abusive relationship. She called police after she was beaten by her boyfriend, and Nash was one of the responding officers. At first, he made her feel safe. But when he returned to her apartment days later on a supposed follow-up visit and sexually assaulted her, she said he violated the trust she had in police.
At the time, Nash was on duty and in uniform.
“You are a monster in human form,” Presnell told him.
After testifying at trial and watching Nash be convicted, Presnell encouraged other women to speak up against abusers.
“It is possible for you to step forward and for your voice to be heard,” Presnell said, choosing to speak out publicly because she didn’t want to feel like she was hiding.
Her mother, Jennifer Presnell, told the court about the constant swing of emotions from anger to depression, and lots of tears she has helped her daughter endure. She constantly reminds her daughter that what happened to her wasn’t her fault.
As a mother, she said she worries she put her daughter in danger by encouraging her to call police to follow up on the domestic violence incident.
“I had no reason not to trust you,” she said to Nash. “You were a police officer, after all.”
Larry Presnell, Tatyanna’s father, was visibly angry as he told the court how the assault affected the family.
“The anger that you have created inside of me is beyond what words can say,” he said.
A veteran, like Nash, Larry Presnell said the brotherhood doesn’t support Nash or his actions.
“I hope that you can someday stop lying to yourself and your family and tell the truth,” he said. “God knows the truth, and may God have vengeance on you from this day forward.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amanda Fry argued that Nash should be sentenced above the standard range of 8½ to 11 years for raping the 41-year-old woman because of the aggravating circumstances.
“He was an armed, on-duty police officer at the time of this rape,” Fry said.
She asked Spokane County Superior Court Judge John Cooney to sentence Nash to 14 years in prison.
Nash’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, said the 41-year-old victim in her written statement to the court was forgiving of Nash, and therefore the court should be too. He asked for the low end of the sentencing range.
Nash has maintained his innocence and told Cooney there was only one reason he would risk not coming home to his family at the end of the day: to protect others.
“I certainly would never do anything ethically, morally or personally that might cause us to get ripped apart,” Nash said. “Your Honor, I am innocent of these allegations.”
Nash said he has already hired an attorney to appeal the sentence, and that he can prove he didn’t rape the women.
“My family is deserving of the opportunity to present the truth,” Nash said.
Nash shared in a series of Facebook posts some of the evidence he believes exonerates him while the jury was deliberating. In one post, he called one victim “a known crackhead” and accused prosecutors of having an agenda against police officers. He also said the older victim’s mental health conditions made her testimony unreliable.
Cooney acknowledged the years of service Nash gave in both the Marines and in law enforcement, before going on to talk about the large number of people Nash victimized.
“What we have here is two women that were already victims before they met you,” Cooney told him. “They were victims of violence … then they became sexual abuse victims.”
The law enforcement community was victimized too, he said.
“When a police officer engages in this conduct, it gives all of them a black eye,” Cooney said. “So, I think they’ve been victimized as well.”
This is the second time in less than five years that a Spokane police officer has been convicted of a sex crime.
In March 2018, a jury convicted Gordon Ennis of second-degree rape for assaulting a fellow officer at a party. He was sentenced to seven years to life in prison. He is serving his sentence at Monroe Correctional Complex.
Lastly, Cooney said Nash victimized his own family. He scolded the Nash family for bringing Nash’s elementary-school-age son to court. The young boy’s sobs rang through the quiet courtroom when his dad was convicted this summer.
“For some reason, your family decided to bring him into court to see that, see his dad be convicted of rape,” Cooney said.
Ultimately, Cooney sentenced Nash to 172 months to life. A sentencing review board is required to look at Nash’s rehabilitation status before he can be released.
Nash remains charged with official misconduct and is set to be tried on that charge later this year.
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