This is the story of two fathers and the son they, in a sense, raised together.
One is Roy Keenan's biological father, George Keenan. The other is his adoptive father, Monsignor Craig Harrison.
One was a sadist. The other was a savior. One inflicted pain. The other relieved it.
But only one of those fathers stands accused today of sex abuse, and it is not the man of violence.
It is the man of peace.
And Roy Keenan wants us all to understand that the allegations against the man who saved his life are, he says, a tragic, impossible error.
Harrison, the popular, outgoing and highly visible priest at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in central Bakersfield, was suspended last month by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno pending the outcome of an investigation into accusations he sexually abused a boy, now a grown man, while a priest in the Fresno County town of Firebaugh. Another accuser has since contacted the diocese, also alleging abuse. None have been publicly identified by the diocese, law enforcement or, per policy regarding alleged sex abuse victims, The Californian.
At the direction of the diocese, Harrison cleared his calendar of all his priestly duties — the weddings, baptisms and other events at which he had long planned to preside. He cried with each cancellation. Now he waits.
Roy Keenan was an 11-year-old foster kid when, as a young seventh-grader at Chipman Junior High School, he first met Craig Harrison, a recent graduate of UCLA working two jobs to pay off his student debt: one as a waiter at the Tam O'Shanter, the other as a math teacher at Chipman. He had already set his sights on eventually entering seminary to become a Catholic priest.
Harrison, working through the Big Brothers mentoring program, was paired up with Keenan. He could not have accepted a greater challenge.
Keenan's family lived in Oildale, at Beardsley and McCord, the epicenter of that community's most dire poverty. George Keenan regularly terrorized the family — Roy, his four siblings and their mother.
Ethel Issac Keenan, who'd become a bride at 15, was a prisoner of her own mental illness: She couldn't read, didn't drive and wasn't sufficiently capable of defending her children.
When Roy Keenan was 5, George kicked him so hard he was hospitalized with internal injuries that required hernia surgery.
But Child Protective Services was not alerted to Roy's situation until George Keenan ripped a clump of hair from the boy's head and teachers spotted his injury the next day at school. Roy was 6. CPS moved him into an emergency shelter, where he stayed four months.
But Roy wasn't George's only target. The father killed the children's new kitten by stuffing it into a freezer; he killed Roy's sister's poodle by rolling up a car window on its neck.
"There are just evil people in this world," Keenan says now, "and he was definitely one of them."
The children eventually all became wards of the court. Ethel Keenan was declared an unfit mother because of her mental illness and Roy went into foster care, never to go home again. He was 8.
He first went to a boys' ranch in Lancaster and two years later was given the opportunity to move into foster care in Bakersfield. That was his living situation when he met Harrison.
He and the priest-to-be would just drive around through the city and talk.
"At the time I didn't really know what he was talking about, but he liked to talk," Keenan says. "He would teach me things like, 'Have a good work ethic. One day you're going to want to get a job, so you're going to have to be responsible, pay your bills on time.'
"... He encouraged me to dream, and have hope, and believe that things in life can come true."
But it took a while for Harrison to get through.
"Coming from Oildale, a survivor of child abuse, I was really withdrawn and I didn't say a lot. I didn't understand the words he was using. My mom wasn't educated and my dad didn't care. ... I didn't know much, and I didn't have anyone — a mom, a dad, an uncle, an aunt, anyone — to back me up. And in the day there weren't court-appointed (special) advocates to check in on foster-care kids."
In other words, he was the ideal target for a pedophile: ignorant, utterly lacking a support system, and already damaged.
"I was probably the most vulnerable kid of anyone that he has ever helped," Keenan says. "... So when we talk about the (current) allegations ... I was a target in the biggest way."
He never sensed anything inappropriate coming from the man he, to this day, calls "father."
Harrison became Keenan's legal guardian when the boy was 13, and he adopted him soon afterward at age 14.
When Harrison, newly ordained, took his first job at a church in Merced, Keenan, fresh out of Bakersfield High School, went with him. He attended Merced College, served in student government, was elected homecoming king, and then returned to Bakersfield on his own.
By the time Harrison eventually moved back to Bakersfield by way of Mojave and then Firebaugh, he had gained guardianship of three other boys, on his way to his eventual eight: Rudy, Roy, Herky, Billy, Mark, Juan, Jose and Greg. He is the legal guardian of four and four are legally adopted.
"Four times he was vetted (as an adoptive father) and four times" he passed scrutiny, Keenan says.
All of the brothers, sisters-in-law and grandkids get along well to this day, he adds.
Today, Keenan, 50, is a silversmith and a single father of two boys: Craig, 13 (named for Harrison), and Wyatt, 8. He regularly visits his mother, Ethel, in a special-care facility; his father's health and whereabouts are unknown.
He talks to Harrison regularly — perhaps twice a week on the phone and once in person every week or two. "We're both busy, but I'll call and ask for advice or direction," Keenan says.
Keenan, a former member of the Fox Theater Foundation board, still volunteers at the old landmark theater. Of particular interest is the Fox's Walk of Fame, where sidewalk "stars" are awarded to local residents who've achieved some measure of regional greatness. He is particularly proud that Harrison was so honored.
Keenan ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Bakersfield in 2016, one in an unusually crowded field of 25 candidates (but the third to file papers, he is quick to add).
"I ran not because I thought I could win," Keenan says. "It was because he inspired me to believe that I could do that."
He says a future City Council run is not out of the question.
Pretty ambitious for a guy relegated to special ed classes as a young kid because he couldn't read and barely communicated.
"That's what he did for me," Keenan says. "He inspired me to believe in life. He gave me hope."
But what of these accusers?
"I think it's fake, I think it's false," Keenan says, offering a theory.
Harrison helped hundreds, perhaps thousands of boys and girls who needed encouragement and support, but he was never going to be able to devote himself to each and every one of them the way he was able to devote himself to Keenan and his adopted siblings. There was only one of him, and he had to move on.
That perceived abandonment might have created lasting resentment in a few of the kids he'd been forced to leave behind, Keenan says. "And if you're a person with that kind of resentment, you're capable of doing anything."
The Catholic Church has failed so many of its faithful, damaging lives over a period of many decades from its inaction. That doesn't mean every accusation will be true.
Keenan wants us to know this is one of those cases.
"He's a life-giver," he says of Harrison. "All he's ever done is inspire me to be a good person and to do good things with my life."
That would place Harrison precisely 180 degrees away on the father spectrum from the man Keenan first honored with the word.