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Erfurth attorney files motion to dismiss

The Kenai
Riley Board
The Kenai Courthouse in November 2023.

The attorney for a former Soldotna teacher and union president charged with 61 counts related to sexual abuse of a minor has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Nathan Erfurth was arrested in May 2023 on charges of second- and fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor. A former student of Erfurth’s reported they had a sexual relationship while she was 17. In July, a grand jury released 61 charges, including sexual abuse of a minor, possession of child pornography and unlawful exploitation of a minor. Erfurth pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

In the new motion, filed yesterday, Erfurth’s attorney Eric Derleth argues Alaska State Troopers improperly presented evidence to the grand jury.

According to an affidavit, troopers obtained a warrant and recorded a conversation between the former student and Erfurth last April, during which she told him she planned to report their relationship to the police and asked if he regretted it. According to troopers, Erfurth expressed anger and frustration about this, and said it would lead to him spending years in jail, saying, “If this is how I’m getting repaid for it, yes.”

Derleth argues in the motion that the so-called “confession” was falsified, and that troopers cherry picked information from four hours of audio to present to the jury. He also writes that troopers failed to tell the jury that Erfurth consistently denied the relationship throughout the tape.

The motion also argues the investigating trooper led the jury to believe evidence of child pornography was found on Erfurth’s devices, even though it wasn’t. It says the trooper told the jury Erfurth and the student exchanged photos that would be considered child pornography using MEGA, an encrypted messaging service.

Erfurth and the student did communicate via MEGA, according to the motion, but only after she was 18, and messages didn’t contain, “anything resembling pornography.”

A trooper spokesperson directed questions to the Alaska Department of Law, where a representative declined to comment, but said it’s up to the courts to determine if a legal error was made.

Erfurth has a hearing scheduled for March and a trial set for April, although those dates were set before the motion was filed.

This story has been updated to include clarifying information from Erfurth’s attorney.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.