Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003

No decision yet on priest's fate

JUNEAU - An advisory board for the Catholic Church says it needs more time to decide the future of a Juneau priest accused of sexually molesting a teenage boy more than 20 years ago.

The board, made up of lay people from the parish, met Thursday night to discuss allegations that Rev. Michael Nash sexually abused former parishioner Joel Post in the early 1980s. The allegations were levied in a letter by Post to Bishop Michael Warfel late last year.

The committee's charge is to recommend to the bishop whether Nash should continue as a priest or be defrocked.

According to an e-mail message sent today from the lay committee's spokesman, the Rev. Pat Travers, a priest based in Ketchikan, the group heard a significant amount of testimony during the five-hour meeting from Nash's secular and canonical attorneys. Travers said the board wanted to take time to consider the new information. Travers declined comment on the nature of the new information and the meeting was closed to the public. Travers did not respond to questions asking how Post was represented at the meeting.

Post said he didn't know the meeting was taking place and had no further comment.

Travers said he doesn't know when the board might reach a consensus decision. He said once a decision is made the board will issue a statement. However, he said, the proceedings of the meeting and the exact nature of the evidence will remain closed to the public.

Court sides with city on Keen tram fees

JUNEAU - The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled the city of Juneau acted properly in seizing building permit fees for an unrelated legal judgment against a company that planned to build a Mount Juneau tram.

In a opinion released last week, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's decision that the city could use a refund on building permit fees to cover money owed by Mount Juneau Enterprises and developer Chuck Keen.

According to the decision, Mount Juneau Enterprises applied for a permit to build a tramway on Mount Juneau in 1988, depositing $52,809 for city permitting and inspection costs. The tramway project stalled and the city never spent most of the funds.

In May 2000, the company asked for a refund after being told it had a credit of about $30,000. But instead of refunding the money, the city used the funds to cover the company's legal debts. Six years earlier, the city had won a $58,784 legal judgment against Mount Juneau Enterprises. By 2000, the company owed more than $89,000, according to the decision.

Mount Juneau Enterprises argued the city lost its right to seize the funds when it promised to refund the permit fees. In addition, the company argued the city's six-year delay in turning over the fees resulted in an implied waiver. But the court found no waiver existed and neither the permit nor city code implied that the fees would be exempt from execution.

Peace demonstrations held around state

JUNEAU - Demonstrators protested a possible war against Iraq over the weekend in Sitka, Gustavus and other Alaska cities.

Several hundred protesters, holding signs and chanting, called for a peaceful solution to the controversy during the Sitka event. They crossed the O'Connell Bridge, which connects Sitka with Japonski Island, and unfurled a banner reading "Peace - not war".

"It is powerful for us to march in solidarity with the millions of people around the globe today to let the world know a peaceful resolution to the Iraq conflict is possible," said Sitka protester Corrie Bosman.

In Gustavus, about 35 people walked through town, ending at the Gustavus dock, where they listened to a resident read U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd's Senate floor speech of Feb. 12, 2003, which opposed a war.

In Anchorage, about 300 people gathered at the Veterans Memorial. In Fairbanks, demonstrators held a march that stretched nearly the length of the Interior city's downtown. In Juneau, residents opposed to the war marched across the Douglas Bridge.

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