Taking aim at another of his accusers, the Rev. Craig Harrison has filed a slander lawsuit against a former friend who went public in May with sexual misconduct allegations against the popular Catholic priest.

The suit filed Sept. 11 in Kern County Superior Court says Justin Gilligan, a former Bakersfield man who changed his name from Ryan Dixon upon entering a monastery in Oregon, "negligently and maliciously" made false statements that have caused Harrison emotional and economic harm.

As recounted in Harrison's lawsuit, Gilligan said in May he was a victim of Harrison's "inappropriate touching, lies, manipulation and abuse of power." Gilligan further alleged he witnessed Harrison touching and being alone with children and giving them gifts and money.

The lawsuit follows a similar lawsuit filed on Harrison's behalf Aug. 6 against Stephen Brady, president and founder of Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful Inc., who has detailed allegations that Harrison had sex with two high school students while serving as pastor of the Firebaugh church and that he would examine boys' private parts daily as a way of checking whether they had been using drugs.

Harrison has been placed on leave from his job as priest at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church pending investigations into sexual misconduct allegations against him. He has denied ever acting in a sexually inappropriate manner.

Harrison's suit against Gilligan seeks economic, exemplary and other damages in an amount to be determined in court.

Gilligan declined Tuesday to comment on the lawsuit, adding that he has not yet hired legal representation.

Bakersfield lawyer Craig A. Edmonston, who along with lawyer Kyle J. Humphrey filed the lawsuit on Harrison's behalf, said the decision to sue Gilligan was made "obviously to hold Brother Gilligan accountable for his defamatory statements." It was also done to clear Harrison's name and recover damages, Edmonston added.

Humphrey said last month that Harrison's lawsuit against Brady was the first in a series of legal actions intended to clear the priest's name and hold people accountable for their false accusations against Harrison.

Edmonston declined to say whether Harrison will file additional lawsuits against others who have accused Harrison of sexual misconduct.

"Time will tell," Edmonston said. "We’ll just have to wait and see whether that develops.”

Bakersfield plaintiff's lawyer Daniel Rodriguez, who in the past has represented celebrities filing slander lawsuits, said such cases can backfire. For one thing, they remind the public about the accusations made, he said.

"Now you keep it in the public mind’s eye," he said. "So is that good strategy, to continue doing that?"

Another possible negative legal outcome, Rodriguez added, is that a jury might decide the allegedly false claims central to the case are true.

"You're taking a gamble," he said.

Gilligan, a former Bakersfield political operative who served for a time as executive vice chairman of the Kern County Young Republicans, told Bakersfield police investigators he witnessed Harrison tickling minors on their stomach area, pinching their upper thighs and giving them inappropriately long bear hugs.

Speaking to news reporters in May, Gilligan said Harrison also told sexual jokes around minors, spent time alone with them and gave them gifts and money.

Gilligan has also told police investigators Harrison rubbed Gilligan's chest for about 15 minutes when the two of them shared a bed together during a three-person trip to a wedding in San Francisco.

Harrison first spoke up publicly against Gilligan in May. In a two-page letter accusing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno of failing to defend him, Harrison said Gilligan drank frequently and excessively, "embarrassing himself with his crude language and behavior."

Harrison went on to write that he reproached Gilligan for his actions, provoking Gilligan's anger, and that the two had little contact after that.

The priest's letter also notes Gilligan was obligated as a seminarian to report any misconduct by Harrison, which he did not do. "He did not report because nothing happened," Harrison wrote.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

(38) comments

pismokathy@live.com

Having known Craig since junior high school, I have no doubt that he is 100% innocent of any of these charges. I believe he's standing up for himself, and disputing these charges in the best way possible. No matter the outcome, he has spoken up publicly and defended his reputation.

SNAP lies

The Monk is MIA! Where is he hiding?

ConcernedCatholic

I heard he went to Texas or Oklahoma.

Nevermind

If he's innocent he absolutely has the right to go after the accusers. If he's not, it's a stupid move. May justice prevail. Amen?

JimmyDude

Amen

SNAP lies

How about a follow up story why the Monk left the Abbey this week with out telling anyone! Must be guilt ridden

Citigal45

I’m happy that innocent priests are finally standing up to those who defame them with hidden motives. Last month a priest in Duluth, Minn. won a court action against an accuser. He earned his parish back and a small monetary judgement replacing the stipend of $500 monthly he’d lost while on administrative leave during investigation. Yesterday a priest in Sacramento filed suit against Diocese of San Diego for “reckless character defamation”. The Diocese took no measures to support or contact him during the entire investigation. The Church needs to stop running scared and stand up for the innocent! And we wonder why vocations are diminishing!! Fight the good fight, Monsignor! Those of us that have known you since Chapman Junior High know the truth.

Jerry Todd

Well said! Fresno Diocese is acting in the same manner. I get the sense when the evil ones finish having their day, the youth who have left the Church will wake up and find the reality of the spiritual warfare we are in in both the secular and ecclesiastical arenas. We'll see a ton of new candidates for the priesthood and new orders of nuns. We see it played out every day, especially with the media pushing a negative narrative against our current Administration 90% of the time - accurate number. Really helps in trade and international negotiations as well as restoring our needle and feces infested cities. Even there Church's means to meet the needs of the truly needy and poor are compromised by the Democrats' Cloward-Piven Strategy to overwhelm our public service systems and law enforcement. Anyone with a brain will travel up and down Baker Street and see what Msgr Craig has put in place before the immigrant and homeless invasions began.

Mrknowitall

Brother Jerry. When you say “accurate numbers” you and everyone else on earth knows that you pulled that number out of thin air. Lol. You appear to be fond of portraying your statements of opinion as statements of fact. Credibility roasted. Don’t engage in such shenanigans my brother. It taints the subject matter and brands you as... perhaps someone who cannot really be relief on to provide accurate information. That’s why Mr. Knowitall is always careful to be directly on point. Like one of Robin Hood’s arrows whistling towards the target. Finally— to taint this important matter by injecting party politics that are not Germaine to this subject smacks of radical ramblings. Not a good look. Follow some of my posts to sharpen your narrative. Bless you my son.

Jerry Todd

Brother Meticulous, I'll stand by that number. It is sad to bring partisan politics into the issue, but I'm more of a generalist with broad vision and a narrow mind. LOL If a bunch of ne'er do-wells have learned tactics to destroy or control us, we might as well learn from them and know how to make them cry. I call it spiritual warfare in the political arena. Even wrote a book about it. Thank you for the "my son" bit. I'll take it to my 85th birthday in February. Maybe we can share a beer. God bless Msgr Craig and all our priests who face the unknown every day.

Knowsalotofcatholics

Craig’s attorneys, Craig Edmonston and Kyle Humphrey are both parishioners. Edmonston’s wife is a former tv news reporter, Lisa Kimble, and Humphrey’s wife, Collette, is a judge in Bakersfield. All of them have a lot of pull and influence. I wanted to point that out.

Jerry Todd

I knew a total loser alcoholic attorney down the street from the parish. Also another one, nearby, a "super Christian" who conned me out of my part in an invention that could be recovering a lot of water today. Not whining about it (much), but Lisa and Collette were some of my wife's star Honors English students at Garces in 1980 or so. I'm sure you'd prefer Craig selected one of my mentioned disasters. I know he chose people with brains, faith and a proven record of integrity. I wanted to point that out.

Knowsalotofcatholics

I am right on board with your thoughts. I am a practicing catholic. The reason WHY I stated what I did was to tell the people, on this site, that Monsignor has the best representation. None of the people that I mentioned are disasters Mr. Todd. They are wonderful people, with true hearts of gold. They do have a lot of influence, because of their education, knowledge of the law, and quite frankly they know false accusations a mile away. My husband said from DAY 1 this WILL NOT go anywhere, not because of Monsignor or his representation, but from a detective/law enforcement perspective, there is NO PHYSICAL PROOF. It is a he said/he said. Monsignor will not be prosecuted, but the damage to his reputation is irreversible to many in the community (not his parishioners, includes me). Lastly, I should have explained WHY I posted how I did. We are on the same page. I am praying the next lawsuit with be the diocese of fresno. They definitely need to be brought down a notch or two, or three, or four.....

Love your comments.....Keep them coming!

Veritas

Let me start this post off by saying that I am neither for nor against Harrison. With that said, there are valid points made here on both sides of the coin. Yes, even by Mrknowlittle. I am confused by one comment made by someone on here though. What is ‘reputational’ damage to a religious figure in a court of law? Anyways, the waters are muddy and deep on this one. On one hand the Catholic Church has been forever sullied by the actions of the many confirmed pedophile priests they have had over the centuries and the inactions/coverup of those in positions of authority that should have dealt with them. On the other hand you have people that will take advantage of such a situation and lie about being a victim in order to get money and, in this day and age, the online/social media fame that comes with it. The really sad part of this is that all of the true victims of molestation by Catholic priests had to go through what they went through, and then when they finally do come forward were doubted because of church coverup or fake victims were exposed as liars. Bottom line no audio, no video, no forensic evidence, it’s the victim’s word against the accused. In the end, it is just sad for those who are telling the truth. This is one case where we will probably never know for sure who is lying and who is telling the truth...

Mrknowitall

BTW... doesn’t anyone else find it odd that this article did not name the attorney who filed this lawsuit? The reporter obviously had access to the documents in their entirety. Legal counsel’s name filing the suit would be right out front on front page of the document. Bueller? Bueller?!

REMUDA

"This story will be updated." (John Cox )

Torts usually include "unnamed does".

Uh . . . oh yeah . . .

Sound familiar . . . ?

"None of the four alleged witnesses she eventually named, including one of her closest lifelong friends, corroborated her accusations. Prior to airing her allegations with the media, she scrubbed her entire social media history that indicated she was a liberal activist."

(https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/12/christine-blasey-fords-father-supported-brett-kavanaughs-confirmation/)

Copper

Innocent until proven guilty of course. Unfortunately if you are in a certain position and have accusations brought against you being placed on leave is appropriate. But in no way should lawsuits be filed against potential victims. What kind of message does that send?!

IMO

Which potential victims are being sued?

SNAP lies

He has not sued any victims. Just two men who took their views to live television.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

If you are innocent of the charges, why wouldn't you look to go after those that have wrongly accused you?

If they do it to one person, what's keeping them from repeating the behavior?

I'm not taking sides here, just pointing out something that should be obvious to an objective mind...

PedoHater

Jesus wept....

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Wrong. We all weep with each of your posts...

Jerry Todd

If I had my way, I'd include Msgr Craig's parishioners in the suit for the damage these specious allegations have done to our people. I'm well aware of the attacks being promulgated by the radical left on any leader who dares serve the people, whether a priest, a President. a Supreme Court Justice, or even the Constitution currently under attack by junior female members of the House. Wake up folks.


KenWitham

It's hard to take you seriously with comments like this. Do you really feel that it is the "radical left" that is taking your favorite Msgr. down with "specious allegations"? That sounds laughable on its face.

Then you seem to double down and suggest that these same cabal is going after other men with authority. Again, do you really think that same cabal that is going after Trump, Kavanaugh, and the US Constitution is also going after Craig Harrison?

Jerry Todd

Good questions. It's hard to call it a cabal, but it is a state of mind among the left who seek out to destroy anyone with a conservative viewpoint. I call it the culture of death for simplicity, like the 2,246 baby bodies found in jars at the home of South Bend Mayor Pete's buddy, a recently deceased license-revoked abortionist. We have been dealing with a broad range of indoctrination in our education system from preschool to the worst of the academics messing up their students' lives.

Most laughable is the perp seeing the Monsignor giving kids gifts and money. Lord knows, he's the most generous with the distribution of his own and parish resources to help people in need. My family has more than once been on the receiving end in times of illness and trial. He even washed my feet on Holy Thursday when I was stage 4 cancer.

As for specious allegations, I suspect a severe exaggeration over checking genitals for drug use or sexual disease. If you were a veteran who was on leave in some Asian port of call, maybe you were lined up upon return for a "Short arm" inspection? If not, I have a few vet friends who can set you straight.

Bodysnatcher

Ken, Jerry makes a good point, but I think it's better said that these people which attack our duly elected officials, clergy, Constitution, etc. are cut from the same cloth with one goal in mind. Laugh at me if you want, but Satan is everywhere and he will do whatever with whomever it takes to bring our leaders and institutions down. I can't recall if it was this current pope or his predecessor who blatantly said Satan was inside the Vatican. The meaning of said comment seemed sort of cryptic to me, but he probably meant it literally. I'm not a Catholic and I don't agree at all with the practices of the Catholic church. In my mind, which I admit is simple, the Catholic church has been from it's beginning an institute of extortion. I believe in God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit and I don't hold people of the Catholic faith in animus, just the church. There's a difference to me and I don't mean to throw negative shade on believers of the Catholic faith. God made it pretty simple for men and women to make it into the kingdom of Heaven. I asked Jesus to come into my life and heart. Not his earthly mother.

bakoreader

I wouldn't bother questioning Jerry Todd...He's a nut job and not worthy of your time.

Copper

Agreed

pismokathy@live.com

Exactly - what does the 'radical left' have to do with it? I might be considered 'radical left' and I would never make false accusations. Most of my close friends are 'radical left' and are kind and truthful people. Bringing politics into this is absurd. I won't state my opinion of the 'radical right'.

pismokathy@live.com

Wanted to edit this and remove my last sentence.

JR

You are the "folks" that need to wake up. How and why would the men who are accusing this priest of sexual misconduct do that? And with so much reasonable sounding details, too. If you want to remain someone's dupe, that's your business. But to call everything that doesn't fit in with your beliefs a conspiracy, is harmful to the truth and the rest of us. So try and look at your Msgr Craig with a non biased eye. Just once, and see what comes to mind.

Jerry Todd

Check the attorneys' websites on the subject. If there's any suspicion even 20+ years ago, they'l coach you on what to ask or what to say. After all, they get 35-40% or more, and the Church is already seen as deep and frightened pockets. Easy money. Craig is fighting back as he should.

Moardeeb

I'm sorry to see you are using this case to push your Trumpian slantedviews of the world. Not appropriate.

Jerry Todd

And quite proud of it, thank you. None of us are living in a vacuum, except the spiritual one created by mockers and naysayers who have nothing better to do. To see my "Trumpian World View" as slanted says enough to discount your concerns.

Hummingbird1

The gentleman doth protest too much, me thinks.

Athanasios

Exactly. These are publicity stunts plain and simple. In order for these suits to go on Fr. Craig will be deposed by lawyers. Then he has to show damages such as economic (I believe he’s getting paid so no lost wages, no other apparent income sources), reputational (I’m not sure how to quantify that) and emotional. But, more than anything else, he has to prove the allegations were false. At that point it’s two visions of the truth. Or, he has to prove a cabal out to get him. Both a BIG hill to climb (unless Humphrey is playing the “Game of Thrones” card. Again, no way this ever goes to court.

Copper

Lol agreed

Mrknowitall

Those being sued have zero assets. The suit is Attorney Humphrey-driven to keep his name in the public eye. No other valid reason exists. Harrison should re-think the advice he’s gotten on this one and who gave that advice. Agenda always. Rule of thumb: who benefits? Not Harrison, in fact this action only prolongs his time under a incredibly negative and extremely bright spotlight. What reasonable person would welcome that? Humphrey likely told him it would be public perception that the good Father has taken such umbrage at these charges that he is taking BIG action to clear his name. Waaay past time for that to ever happen. This is so obvious. Humphrey doesn’t care how roasted Harrison gets. Any attorney that would blame a “cabal” conspiracy as a defense is basically admitting his client is guilty and can mount no other defense... or is incompetent. I’ll let y’all decide. BTW—it’s one or the other; no in-between choice on this one. Mr. Knowitall is Mr. Knowitall for a reason. Which goes without saying.

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