A former teacher at Soldotna High School was removed this week as president of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s teachers union, days after he was arrested Saturday on two charges of sexual abuse of a minor following an investigation that ran more than a month.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety wrote in a May 20 dispatch that the Alaska State Troopers received a report on April 3 that Nathaniel E. Erfurth, 34, had sexually abused a minor over multiple years. That report was subsequently investigated by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Soldotna Major Crimes Unit.
Investigators allege that Erfurth, while employed as a high school teacher in Soldotna, sexually abused a female juvenile multiple times between 2017 and 2019. Since 2020, Erfurth has headed the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, the union that represents KPBSD’s teachers. Before that, he taught history and government at Soldotna High School.
Investigator Samuel Webber wrote in a May 20 affidavit accompanying charging documents that a woman contacted the Soldotna Police Department on April 2 to report that she had been “sexually assaulted” by Erfurth when she was a minor.
Erfurth was investigated at least two other times by the Soldotna Police Department regarding incidents involving the same person while she was a minor, according to the affidavit.
The department in 2016 investigated Erfurth, but ultimately did not bring forth criminal charges, after it was reported that he and the minor were texting and emailing each other “inappropriately,” the affidavit said.
The department also investigated Erfurth in 2017 after it was reported that Erfurth, while on a school trip, had allowed the minor to shower in his hotel room and was seen kissing her on the forehead. Also in that instance, no criminal charges were brought forward, according to the affidavit.
After both investigations had concluded, Erfurth and the minor continued communicating via Signal, the affidavit says. Erfurth allegedly suggested the use of Signal for communication, through which messages can be deleted immediately after they are read. The woman said that, while she was a minor, she would visit Erfurth’s residence multiple times per week, according to the affidavit.
Shortly after the minor turned 17, the affidavit says, she and Erfurth “became physically intimate.”
On April 20, Alaska State Troopers monitored and recorded a conversation between Erfurth and the woman at Erfurth’s Soldotna home, during which she allegedly told him she documented the sexual relationship they had while she was a minor. According to the affidavit, Erfurth “expressed frustration and anger at the fact she had documented their sexual relationship and at how it could lead to him spending years in jail.”
When asked by the woman whether or not he “regretted sleeping with her,” the affidavit says, Erfurth said, “If this is how I’m getting repaid for it, yes.”
KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland said Saturday via text that the district is aware of the charges against Erfurth.
“The District is aware of the charges against Mr. Erfurth. Student safety and welfare is the highest priority for the District,” he wrote. “We are working closely with law enforcement in this investigation and are unable to provide further comment at this time.”
KPBSD Human Resources Director Nate Crabtree said Monday that the district became aware of the allegations involving Erfurth in early April, and that Erfurth was already on leave from the district in his capacity as president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and was “not present in a classroom.”
After learning of the allegations against Erfurth, Crabtree said, the district ensured that Erfurth was not present on school property while the investigation took place. Erfurth, who provides regular updates to the KPBSD Board of Education as part of a designated meeting comment period, has been absent from the school board’s April and May meetings.
KPBSD did not directly respond to questions about the extent to which it was aware of any allegations against Erfurth previously investigated by the Soldotna Police Department.
Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association President Susanna Litwiniak said Monday that KPEA vice president, Tamra Wear, has been filling in for Erfurth at the association. The collective bargaining agreement between KPBSD and KPEA says that the association pays the full salary and benefit costs for the association president.
In comments shared with the Clarion on Tuesday, Wear said KPEA learned of the charges against Erfurth on May 20, the day he was arrested.
KPEA’s nine-member Board of Directors voted unanimously on Monday to remove Erfurth as president of the association, effective immediately, Wear said. Wear will be serving as acting president until a special election can be held to determine a new president.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone,” the statement says. “As educators, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our students and it’s a responsibility we take seriously.”
Wear said KPEA will accept nominations for an interim president from May 24-30 and hold a special election of the membership from June 1-15. The winner of that election will serve a one-year term. Wear directed questions about the status of Erfurth’s employment to KPBSD.
As of Wednesday, Erfurth remained in custody at Wildwood Pretrial Facility, where he had been held since his May 20 arrest. He is being charged with one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
Per Alaska State Statute, both second- and fourth-degree charges of sexual abuse of a minor describe crimes committed by an adult against someone who is 16 or 17 years old while the perpetrator is at least three years older than the victim and occupying a position of authority over them. The charges describe crimes of sexual penetration and sexual contact, respectively.
A bail order issued by Superior Court Judge Lance Joanis requires Erfurth to put up $50,000 toward an appearance bond and 10% of a $100,000 performance bond amount, or $60,000 total. Erfurth must also be appointed a third-party custodian before being released from custody. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 31.
Reach reporters Ashlyn O’Hara and Jake Dye at email@example.com.