Dillingham parish priest charged with attempted sexual assault

Jul 23, 2016

Father Michael Nicolai has been suspended from his duties at the Russian Orthodox church after allegations of domestic violence and attempted sexual assault. 

KDLG:  Dillingham police have charged a local parish priest with attempted sexual assault. KDLG’s Dave Bendinger has more.

Father Michael Nicolai is the priest at Saint Seraphim of Sarov, the Russian Orthodox Church in Dillingham. Early on Saturday July 16, police were called to the parish home behind the church by his wife, who reported she had been assaulted.

Dan Pasquariello is the chief of Dillingham Police.

“The officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. They went there, they interviewed all parties involved, they made an arrest. The information they gathered, after conferring with the district attorney, led them to charge Father Nicholai with attempted sexual assault and a physical assault.”

The investigation revealed that Father Michael had been drinking that night, and the victim said he had been viewing pornography, which led to arguments and eventually an assault. Officers found ripped clothing and undergarments which corroborated the victim’s initial description of the nature of the assault.

Police reported both the defendant and the victim had bruises and other wounds.

The prosecutor reviewed the evidence late the following week and intends to seek indictment on the attempted sexual assault charge. According to Chief Pasquariello, Father Michael Nicolai received no different treatment on account of his position in the community.

“The officers investigated this case the same as they would any other case, no more, no less," he said. "This incident was alcohol related. Alcohol clouds people’s judgment. Everybody’s human. Everybody makes mistakes."

Michael Nicolai is originally from Kwethluk, and came to Dillingham several years ago after Father Victor Nick left this parish. Father Michael has been temporarily suspended from his duties at St. Seraphim.

Bishop David Mahaffey issued a statement, saying that the “Orthodox Diocese of Alaska takes all allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously. We are monitoring the events closely and we are working with the authorities to bring about justice in this situation. Please pray for Fr. Michael, his family and the Faithful of St. Seraphim Church."

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.