A Catholic monk is no longer keeping silent about what he claims were sexual improprieties with minors by Monsignor Craig Harrison of St. Francis of Assisi Church.

Brother Justin Gilligan, with the Order of St. Benedict, claims Harrison made sexual advances toward him on multiple occasions before he became a monk, but it was Harrison's behavior around minors that most troubled hm.

This is the first time a fellow Catholic cleric has stepped forward with allegations against Harrison.

Gilligan is Bakersfield native Ryan Dixon; Brother Justin Gilligan is the name he took when he became a monk, a practice common among those entering a monastery.

Gilligan, as Dixon, attended Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield College and, before enrolling in seminary, was active in local politics. He served as executive vice chairman of the Kern County Young Republicans and worked with Republican political consultants such as the late Mark Abernathy and his wife, Cathy Abernathy.

Gilligan, now living in the Pacific Northwest, was about 23 at the time Harrison made his purported advances, but he alleges he also saw Harrison behaving inappropriately with minors.

"I also witnessed him being inappropriate with children, giving gifts/money, saying sexual jokes, touching and being alone with them," said Gilligan, 30, reading from a statement. Under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in 2002 by the U.S. Catholic Church, priests are forbidden from being alone with minors.

Gilligan converted to Catholicism in 2011 and his home parish was St. Francis, where he became a "zealous young Catholic" who attended Mass every day, he said in a recent interview in Bakersfield.

"I started hanging around church more, and Father Craig became my mentor — a priest I trusted and admired," said Gilligan. A year later, in 2012, with Harrison's blessing and encouragement, Gilligan joined the seminary to become a priest, he said. After graduating with a bachelors degree in philosophy in 2016, Gilligan said, he left the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno on good terms to become a Catholic monk at an out of state monastery.

It was during his time at St. Francis, from 2011 to 2016, Gilligan said, that he became part of Harrison's inner circle. During this time, he said, he began to witness what he called "inappropriate touching, lies, manipulation and abuse of power" by Harrison.

Citing legal concerns, Gilligan would not go into specific details about the kind of inappropriate sexual conduct he allegedly witnessed Harrison doing with minors.

Gilligan alleges that he rejected Harrison's advances toward him, but the incidents created tension and led him to distance himself from the church.

"Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Bakersfield, a community I love, along with friends, family and others I cared about most in this world," said Gilligan. "I had to push them away because of what experienced with Father Craig."

Gilligan apparently played a key role in convincing a potential victim of sexual misconduct from Firebaugh to report his case to the Diocese of Fresno.

"At the beginning of April, the Diocese of Fresno contacted my superiors at the monastery, explaining that a third party (had) contacted the diocese," he said.

That third party was "encouraging (the diocese) to reach out to me, believing I had very important information regarding Father Craig involving the safety of minors," Gilligan said.

Two representatives of the Diocese of Fresno subsequently went to interview Gilligan and another seminarian to gather information about what they might know about alleged misconduct by Harrison. Teresa Dominguez, director of communications for the Fresno diocese, confirmed she met with and spoke to Gilligan.

Gilligan said he reached out to the potential victim from Firebaugh, listened to his story and believed him. On April 12, the Firebaugh man made a report to the Fresno diocese alleging sexual misconduct by Harrison when the man was a minor. A report was also filed with the Firebaugh Police Department and the investigation is still underway. Two weeks later, on April 25, the diocese announced that Harrison had been suspended from all of his priestly duties and placed on administrative leave.

"I realized the things that had happened to me happened to others, too," Gilligan said. The monk said he observed other events he deemed improper involving Harrison.

"I have also witnessed him taking advantage of and controlling the lives of those entrusted to him that had drug or alcohol problems," he said.

He says it's simply not true that those coming forward today with accusations against Harrison are motivated by money. "The narrative (that) ... those coming forward (are doing so) for financial gain or (are) trying to destroy a good man's name is 100 percent false," said Gilligan. "The first victim to come forward to the Diocese ... on April 12 was living his life normally; he was not aware, when I made a personal visit, that a third party had contacted the Diocese."

Gilligan had not spoken out publicly about the allegations against Harrison, he said, because he was afraid no one would believe him. Doing so could have ruined his chances of becoming a priest or damaged his reputation in Bakersfield.

"I have seen how (Harrison) builds relationships with high ranking people in the community, such as the news media, law enforcement, attorneys, judges, business owners, politicians and other wealthy individuals," Gilligan said. He adds he is not seeking any financial gain from Harrison or the diocese.

"I don't need money because I am a monk, and I have no animosity toward Father Craig. I have forgiven him for what he has done to me," he said.

Gilligan has not filed any police reports but he said he was interviewed by officers from the Bakersfield and Firebaugh police departments about what he witnessed, and he feels his story was taken seriously. But he admits he is afraid and nervous and at times disillusioned, questioning why he became a Catholic in the first place. But, he says, he feels he has a responsibility to the church and to the families of Bakersfield to speak out now.

"All I want is for those victims to not feel alone, (to) get them the help they need, and help for Father Craig," he said.

Kyle Humphrey, attorney for Monsignor Harrison, issued the following response to the allegations: "I'm not shocked. There is an effort to frame and destroy Father Craig as a means to get to the deep pockets of the church. This is very much like 'Game of Thrones,' with players with individual motives to build their own little kingdoms."

Harrison remains suspended from his official duties as men in Firebaugh, Merced and Bakersfield have come forward with allegations they, too, were sexually abused by the monsignor.

Contributing columnist Jose Gaspar is a news anchor/reporter for Telemundo Bakersfield and KGET. Email him at elcompa29@gmail.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

(39) comments

Cjh714

The Catholic church, along with the LDS church, should be stripped of its tax exempt status immediately!

Grandma Tam

This is how it is in instances of child pedophilia. These cases are difficult to prove, forensic wise and due to witness bashing. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter if the acused is a priest, teacher, doctor, bank robber, or thug - there will always be those who support child molesters. "He's too nice!" "I've known him for years!"
"He's a good person." Doesn't matter if law enforcement has DNA, a freshly-mutilated corspe, or a statement from years after the abuse was said to have occurred - sexual preditors usually amass a wide fan base of supporters who remain loyal. These Kooks ignore all evidence and base their belifs on faith. Not the God type of faith - the type of faith where all common sence and logic is thrown out the window and they insert themselves and their opinions as experet advice. I would say, "That is, until it happens to their kids," but that wouldn't be true. Kooks like these put the virtues molesters above the safety of their own children. It happens all the time.

bobspapa

For those having issues with this guys timing… During WWII, lots of good Germans knew what the Nazi’s were doing, and did/said nothing about it. Their inaction during that moment in time does not change the fact that the Holocaust occurred. Just say’n.

Back to my popcorn.

Fram Smith

A friendly reminder, there are some comments being made by people who don't live here and are paid to make strange statements.REMUDA , by his own admission, is one such individual(s)?
BE ADVISED
But for us folks who actually live here, most of us are deeply saddened by all of this.But if we can dispassionately look at the facts, perhaps some solace can be obtained. First and foremost, no one , ( except those who believe they were harmed by Father Craig), has the right to formulate an opinion; we don't have all the facts. What any honest broker does is wait for the law enforcement community to complete it's investigation; and then respect their conclusions. I know that idea is just a universe away from these two camps who have already made up their minds and can't be bothered to wait for the facts derived from a professional investigation. But there are a few of us, apparently very few, who still respect the rule of law; and we will wait for the facts before judging Father Craig.

Nevermind

I feel you Fran, but blogs are for opinions, right or wrong. Opinions don't get you incarcerated, or set you free. Dissenting opinions can continue even after the justice system does it's duties.....eg..... O.J. Simpson. If they have no evidence, he will preach another sermon. My guess it's there won't be enough evidence, and their won't be enough evidence of accuser collusion either. The Catholic Church does not have to prove his culpability and can act based on what they believe occured. Opinions mean nada in a court of law, only justice, and justice is never guaranteed.

PW

Unfortunately Brother (Monk) Justin lost his credibility with me the moment he put his career above the safety of "minors purportedly being sexually assaulted." As a priest Brother Justin, wass''


Is a "Mandated Reporter." Per the California Department of Education's Child Abuse Identification & Reporting Guidelines: One does not have to be physically present or witness the abuse to identify suspected cases of abuse, or even have definite proof that a child may be subject to child abuse or neglect. Rather, the LAW REQUIRES THAT a PERSON have a “REASONABLE SUSPICION ” that a CHILD has been the SUBJECT of CHILD ABUSE or NEGLECT. All PERSONS who are MANDATED REPORTERS are REQUIRED, by LAW, to REPORT all KNOWN or SUSPECTED CASES of CHILD ABUSE or NEGLECT." SO ... since Brother Justin did not follow State Law or God's Law, which trumps our legal system, he seems more like a man with an axe to grind.
The Book of Matthew 18:6 says;
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Pay special attention to

Athanasios

I have no clue about the credibility of the accusations, but I am concerned that he never reported them. To Kyle “Geragos” Humphrey - please just shut up! If your best defense is some type of “Game of Thrones” conspiracy then you’re not doing Fr. Craig any favors. I feel like “thou dost protest a bit too much”. Maybe a statement like “I’m confident the truth will come out” would be a bit more dignified.

Localyokle

It's very sad to see someone place their career path above that of protecting innocent children from abuse. Although there might seem to be underlying tension between these two individuals it would be nice to see them kiss and make up.

PW

You've LOST your CREDIBILITY Brother Gilligan!
My question to Brother Justin Gilligan: Aren't you a "mandated reporter?" Why did you not obey the law and report Fr. Craig's behavior? Instead Brother, you waited 'til your own career was established? I believe as Christians that we're told to "not bear false witness" (Proverbs 19:9) "especially to the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10a)

DogPark

Sad this is all you've got. Are we really getting tripped up on technicalities? I would think you could toss out these "mandates" if you get hit on by your superior.

bobspapa

Nothing brings out the bad grammar, misspellings, biased opinions, crackpot ideology, and sad commentary like a touchy-feely article on religious figures.

Grabbing a bucket of popcorn.

clsoca

I keep hearing people reference him as a pedophile. All the allegations so far has risen from older underage teenagers at the time of the alleged incidents. Pedophilia involves prepubescent children. No specific allegations have been made involving a child under the age of 14 years of age. Nevertheless the allegations are very serious and career ending without a doubt.

Nevermind

Sure, pedophillia is a no no, but ephebophilia is okay. Why don't you just go all out and say the Church regards 7 as the age of reason, therefore they consented.

clsoca

I'm Yawning

REMUDA

Guess I missed the article about the Crystal Palace. Been there couple times.
---
Saw that Nudie's fave Pontiac is still mounted behind the bar.
----
https://www.flickr.com/photos/fredsredt/25764775291
----
Nudie & I used to talk movie stars, boots 'n saddles & horses in North Hollywood after starting my livery stable. (Still have his autographed pic of that same deco-art 'Poncho')
-----
Oh . . . wait a minute . . . !
----
RIGHT . . . !
------
This article is all about a priest, and . . . JOSE GASPAR . . . and his 'TRIBE' of 'scandal-mongers' and 'tale-bearers' . . . with no indictment or even any proof . . . !
-----
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless slander" (James 1:26)
----
"Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander," (1 Peter 2:1)

Nevermind

Really, so writing about the accusations that law enforcement and the Church itself all ng with one of it's Monks is scandalous. Stick to horses and stream of consciousness posts.

LastResort

I have to say that I've never seen nor thought that a priest of man of the clothe should be hanging out at Crystal Palace.
When I seen that, all credibility went out the door.

Nevermind

First people throw SNAP under the bus, then they insinuate the Diocese is facing by doing an investigation, now they call this Monk a liar. One gets the impression that if they saw videotape of child violations they'd call it a Hollywood plot by George Lucas and his C.G.I. team.

CaliMom26

Read the article on KGETs website

LocalBarber

Man grows up in a time when homosexuality is forbidden, joins the ministry, finds common people, the secrets add to his perversion. The deniers have a lot of "faith". Lol sick people.

Vavoom

are you fit to be a juror??? great default defense. he will not be tried because... take note: "I have seen how (Harrison) builds relationships with high ranking people in the community, such as the news media, law enforcement, attorneys, judges, business owners, politicians and other wealthy individuals," Gilligan said. He adds he is not seeking any financial gain from Harrison or the diocese."---a predator who successfully built his kingdom. a kingdom of pedophilia. a kingdom of manipulation. a kingdom of powerful people to protect him. while ed jagels was prosecuting innocent people for child molestation, one of those child molesters was right in his backyard.

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

Couldn’t be better said! Right under closet Jagels nose there was this! This cult was on full display at that bizarre DA coronation and now is FULLY exposed...harrison is moving to Wyoming...look out young boys and men there!

IMO

When I first read this article my first thought was oh gosh …this is from the church. Here is the final nail in the coffin. The second time I read it the holes began to show. While Brother Justin's credentials sound ok and he takes a nice picture, something just doesn’t sound right. Of all the allegations I have read, this one, to me, holds the least amount of water. He infers his coming forward as by invitation, just not sure about that. His dialog is very questionable.
He witnessed inappropriate sexual conduct he allegedly witnessed Harrison doing with minors. This guy was an ADULT at the time. If this is true why didn’t he report it on the behalf of the minors? As This type of behavior is advised against in order to create a safe environment for children and if he was trained as future priests based on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People Wasn’t Justin under some sort of obligation to report said abuse? If these allegations are true or not, I would never want Justin as a leader of my Parish or any other ministry. Why? If the allegations are true he has admitted he would not report inappropriateness in fear of his own successes. If they are not true, then I wouldn’t want a deceiver in my Parish. Furthermore if the accusations are held as true shouldn’t Justin also be punished for at least not reporting what he had witnessed about other minors?
Justin was in the inner circle for 5 years. Why? Again, he was an adult. Nobody was holding him there against his will. There are several other Catholic churches and priests in Bakersfield. Why didn’t he just move?
The brother has seen how he builds relationships with high ranking people in the community such as news media, law enforcement, attorneys, judges, business owners, politicians, and other wealthy individuals. So what? What the brother fails to mention is that typically this company is kept with these individuals for fundraising of many worthy causes that feed, cloth and house the less fortunate. . All in all, Msgr Craig builds relationships with people of all walks of life. But that’s an entirely different sorry.
Relate to how this community is feeling? Hardly. What many don’t realize is that we are standing stronger than ever. To fall away from our faith is to give in to the enemy. Remain faithful? Sorry brother, we never lost it. We pray more now than ever. We hold each other up with love and conversation. This goes for many Catholics and non-Catholics. People of all faiths have joined together in prayer. The prayer vigil was packed by people of all faiths. In all of my encounters throughout our town I have not met one person Catholic or not who has believed any of the allegations. I know believers of this falsehood are there. I have just been fortunate in this manner.
Stated is a man brought the allegations forward, no one believed him, and shortly after lost his life, What are you inferring? The brother goes on to say I will not be available for further comments on this but also says, more details to come. Does the brother work for SNAP?
We all have a responsibility to keep them safe and protected. True. However we need to conduct factual, substantiated investigations. Not glorify yourself, as bearing the burden, in the face of our Lord. Shame on you.
The Fresno Diocese is basically opening up a teller window for anyone with a claim, has a biased chancellor who is both judge and jury against every priest and as the brother says don’t need the money. To which charity will he give his allotment? Perhaps AA?

Matthew 16:18 Our faith will prevail.

Boogerface Nutter

So, are you saying you'd let your young son be an alter boy for Father Craig?

IMO

ABSOLUTELY!

IMO

When I first read this article my first thought was oh gosh …this is from the church. Here is the final nail in the coffin. The second time I read it the holes began to show. While Brother Justin's credentials sound ok and he takes a nice picture, something just doesn’t sound right. Of all the allegations I have read, this one, to me, holds the least amount of water. He infers his coming forward as by invitation, just not sure about that. His dialog is very questionable.
He witnessed inappropriate conduct Harrison doing with minors. This guy was an adult at the time. If this is true why didn’t he report it on the behalf of the minors? As This type of behavior is advised against in order to create a safe environment for children and if he was trained as future priests based on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People Wasn’t Justin under some sort of obligation to report said abuse? If these allegations are true or not, I would never want Justin as a leader of my Parish or any other ministry. Why? If the allegations are true he has admitted he would not report inappropriateness in fear of his own successes. If they are not true, then I wouldn’t want a deceiver in my Parish. Furthermore if the accusations are held as true shouldn’t Justin also be punished for at least not reporting what he had witnessed about other minors?
Justin was in the inner circle for 5 years. Why? Again, he was an adult. Nobody was holding him there against his will. There are several other Catholic churches and priests in Bakersfield. Why didn’t he just move?
The brother has seen how he builds relationships with high ranking people in the community such as news media, law enforcement, attorneys, judges, business owners, politicians, and other wealthy individuals. So what? What the brother fails to mention is that typically this company is kept with these individuals for fundraising of many worthy causes that feed, cloth and house the less fortunate. All in all, Msgr Craig builds relationships with people of all walks of life. But that’s an entirely different sorry.
Relate to how this community is feeling? Hardly. What many don’t realize is that we are standing stronger than ever. To fall away from our faith is to give in to the enemy. Remain faithful? Sorry brother, we never lost it. We pray more now than ever. We hold each other up with love and conversation. This goes for many Catholics and non-Catholics. People of all faiths have joined together in prayer. The prayer vigil was packed by people of all faiths. In all of my encounters throughout our town I have not met one person Catholic or not who has believed any of the allegations. I know believers of this falsehood are there. I have just been fortunate in this manner.
Stated is a man brought the allegations forward, no one believed him, and shortly after lost his life. What is being infered? The brother goes on to say I will not be available for further comments on this but also says, more details to come. Does the brother work for SNAP?
We all have a responsibility to keep them safe and protected. True. However we need to conduct factual, substantiated investigations. Not glorify yourself, as bearing the burden, in the face of our Lord. Shame on you.
The Fresno Diocese is basically opening up a teller window for anyone with a claim, has a biased chancellor who is both judge and jury against every priest and as the brother says don’t need the money. To which charity will he give his allotment? Perhaps AA?

Matthew 16:18 Our faith will prevail.

BillJames

This is very damning information against Harrison. The tally is now 6 accusers and Harrison is nowhere to be found. My friend at the church told me that he is soon headed for Wyoming to stay for awhile. An innocent man doesn't flee the state.

IMO

And that's how rumors start. Who would flee and share that information.

BillJames

correction - leave the state

Sheebe

Love how the trial hasn't happened and people have the nerve to decide who is guilty. You idiots don't get that innocent until proven guilty. I bet some of you go to church and here you are being Judge and Jury. Heaven help you. Let this go to court. No one know what happened. If it did happen. Seems to me some are money hungry. Look at what is going on in other situations. You don't have to have evidence to ruin a persons life. Maybe one of you're family members will be a victim. See you you feel. A person whom is accused. Has a right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers. Sad thing is a lot are uneducated and get to be a juror. Unbelievable.

CaliMom26

Shebee- you’re talking about a criminal trial against the person. The investigations and review board for the catholic diocese does not hold the same standard of review. This doesn’t need to “go to court” for Fr. Craig to be removed from the diocese and possibly defrocked.

alexkelley

Leave it to Jose Virtue Signaler to find a nut job like Dixon to give offensive information ABOUT HIMSELF to further a hit piece against Father Harrison. Dixon was mentally unbalanced back then & remains so today. The proof is in that Dixon admits, apparently, to KNOWING, before after the fact that Harrison was allegedly victimizing/assaulting children and Dixon DID NOTHING to stop him; didn’t report him to the church, the police, heck, apparently not even to the parents who could have then taken action!! If all his allegations were true, where is HIS culpability?!! I hope at a minimum Dixon, or “Gilligan,” get defrocked & dismissed for either being a liar/co-conspirator then or a liar now. He doesn’t get to have it both ways.

CaliMom26

Maybe he didn’t come forward years ago because of people like you calling him a nut job. Obviously, we know what side of the aisle you stand on in terms of supporting Craig. Maybe keep the name calling to a minimum. Would you have had the nerve to report your boss? It’s easy to retrospectively critique a situation but let me be clear, it is NEVER okay to sexually assault someone, no matter how many years ago it happened. Fortunately, years of doing good in a community don’t somehow negate prior bad behavior.

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

Done! This monster let all of Bako down...pedo!

IMO

go back to following the royals. The Queen misses you.

CHitchens

To use "Game of Thrones" as a parallel to the allegations comes across very amatuer from the legal team.

JimmyDude

I thought the same exact thing - silly reference. 'Amateur' is a great term for it.

clsoca

That is a very good point!!!!!!

Churchillis1

This accusation is pretty damning for Craig.

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