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Nov. 26, 2022

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Former police officer takes the stand to deny assaulting women during final day of testimony in his rape trial

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SPOKANE — Former Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash, on trial on accusations he raped two women, testified Thursday that he did not assault or have sexual contact with either woman.

Nash, 39, repeatedly denied their allegations that he sexually assaulted them when he made follow-up visits on their reports of domestic violence.

On July 5, 2019, Nash along with another officer responded to a woman’s report that her neighbor physically assaulted her. The woman, 41, testified earlier this week that Nash returned the next day to photograph her injuries and raped her. She didn’t report the assault until 2021.

Another woman, 25, testified last week that Nash put his fingers inside her when he came to take photographs of her injuries after she reported her then-boyfriend had physically assaulted her. In an interview with Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigators shown in court last week, Nash denied assaulting the woman — who was 22 at the time — and said the woman guided his hand to her genitals.

The woman told him to “feel this” when she took his hand, Nash said in the recorded interview. He then removed his hand and told her, “we’re done,” he told investigators.

Nash maintained those statements when testifying Thursday.

He said the woman pulled his hand to her genitals but he pulled away. He sparred with Deputy Prosecutor Amanda Fry over his statement in the interview with detectives that his finger entered the woman’s labia. On the stand Thursday, he said it touched her labia but didn’t enter.

When Fry pointed to the quote from the initial interview where Nash said his hand entered the woman, Nash agreed he had said that but the statements were the same.

“That is the quote,” Nash said. “I fail to see the distinction.”

Nash said he did not turn his body camera on during his visit to home because she asked him not to. Spokane Police Department policy at the time indicated if an officer chose to honor a citizen’s request to not be filmed, the officer needed to record the reason for doing so in their report.

He didn’t report the touching incident to his superiors, Nash said. Nash testified he didn’t intend to take photographs of the 22-year-old’s injuries, just to look at the pictures she had already taken, as he said, she asked him to do.

Nash acknowledged that it was standard protocol for corporals to be called to photograph injuries and said he never photographed victims’ injuries himself during his two years with the police department. Nash was removed from the police department in 2019.

Nash denied any in-person contact with the now-41-year-old woman beyond responding to her initial call for service on July 5, 2019.

He acknowledged he did give the woman his personal cell phone number, a practice he did regularly. He called the woman to get more information on her neighbor’s whereabouts on July 6 but denies going to her house that day.

During the time prosecutors argued Nash raped the woman, he said he was at a police office watching TV. He said his GPS application was off due to issues with the system. Multiple people who work on the application testified there was no indication of an issue with the system and that the data aligns with Nash closing out of the app.

Nash denied having any sexual contact with the woman, refuting her testimony that the two later had consensual sex after the rape.

He had been texting with the woman about her situation with her neighbor into September 2019 but said he blocked her number at the request of his wife. The two talked again on the phone in September 2020 when she asked again for help with her neighbor.

Nash said he told her he was no longer a police officer due to the pending charges against him in the first sexual assault case. The woman was aware of the case and asked what happened, Nash said.

Nash told her his side of the story in detail, he said. The conversation was on speaker phone and overheard by Nash’s wife, Kristeen Nash, who testified Wednesday.

A forensic expert, Monte Miller, also testified for the defense Thursday. Miller said he believes the totality of the DNA results point to it being “extremely unlikely” that Nash put his fingers inside of the then-22-year-old woman.

None of the woman’s DNA was found on fingernail clippings taken from Nash, but her DNA was found on a swab of his hand and on his notebook. Miller said he’s not surprised that Nash’s DNA wasn’t detected in the woman’s sexual assault kit, and the DNA evidence is “not corroborating” her story.

Miller’s testimony directly conflicted with testimony from the prosecution’s expert, Lorraine Heath, who said it’s uncommon to find DNA from a digital penetration under someone’s nails or on their hands if there has been a delay in collecting the samples. It was nine hours from when the woman reported the assault took place to when Nash’s hand was swabbed and nails collected.

Miller largely relied on a study involving four couples that prosecutors said was not conducted in a lab. The study and both experts agreed that hand-washing was a large factor in DNA preservation. Nash said he washed his hands once after going to the 22-year-old’s apartment before the DNA was collected.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

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