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Monsignor Craig Harrison, with hands over the altar, celebrates Holy Thursday Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in 2017.

A third allegation against Monsignor Craig Harrison surfaced Monday when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno confirmed an accusation of sex abuse was reported two decades ago.

In 1998, a man reported the alleged abuse to the Firebaugh Police Department, and then later reported it in 2002 to the Fresno Diocese, according to Teresa Dominguez, communications director for the diocese. The diocese investigated and took no action.

“(The accuser) didn’t feel that it got its due attention in 1998 so he did return in 2002 to the diocese,” Dominguez said. “The diocese determined it to be unsubstantiated.”

The man said the abuse occurred at St. Joseph Church in Firebaugh, where Harrison served as pastor from July 1, 1992 to June 30, 1999.

“However, it’s our policy ... if we do discover something comparable that occurred in the past we bring it into the current conversation,” Dominguez said.

Harrison’s attorney, Kyle Humphrey, said he was surprised the Diocese of Fresno had revealed the latest accusation, given the circumstances of the allegation.

“Father Craig reported that allegation himself,” Humphrey said. “This is baffling because it was Father Craig who went to the police and diocese. The young man, from what I understand from my sources, had also accused his coaches and his parents. It was reported and found to be unsubstantiated.”

Asked about Humphrey’s comments, Dominguez said she couldn’t comment any further.

Firebaugh Police Chief Salvador Raygoza said Monday the department was “looking at possible past investigations.”

Harrison, 59, the popular local priest of St. Francis Church, was put on paid administrative leave last week after a man reported to the diocese he had been inappropriately touched by the priest in Firebaugh years ago. Then Saturday, the diocese said a second accusation had been reported in Merced, where Harrison served as pastor from Sept. 12, 1987 to June 21, 1989.

That brings the total number of accusers to three — two at St. Joseph’s in Firebaugh and one in Merced.

Harrison has been pastor at St. Francis in Bakersfield since 1999 and prior to that from June 22, 1989 to Oct. 16, 1991. He also serves as the chaplain for the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

Bakersfield police said they have not previously investigated allegations of sex abuse against Harrison. And if a current investigation were ongoing, it would not be disclosed under department policy, spokesman Sgt. Nathan McCauley said.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office said there is no current investigation of Harrison and that it could not disclose any past investigations or arrests, citing state law.

“From the best of my knowledge with arrest records .... we can’t release it according to law,” said Angela Monroe, the Sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California News Publishers Association, disputed the Sheriff’s Office position on releasing information.

He said California Government Code specifically allows for the release of information about arrests and incidents, unless to do so would harm an investigation or jeopardize the safety of a victim or witness.

“There is nothing in the law that requires them to withhold it,” he said.

In February, the Fresno Diocese announced it was launching a thorough investigation and would then release a list of names of priests accused of sexual misconduct dating back to 1922. It encouraged anyone who believes they are a victim to contact the diocese.

The review starts Tuesday, Dominguez said. The diocese is bringing in a former FBI executive assistant director, Kathleen McChesney of Kinsale Management Consulting, to review the clergy files.

The diocese comprises 87 parishes in eight counties, including Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Inyo, Madera, Merced and Mariposa, and it has an estimated 1.2 million Catholics.

Asked if Harrison’s file would be expedited for review considering the recent allegations against him, Dominguez said she couldn’t comment on that.

“All I can say is his file will be included among others with a complete, thorough review,” she said. “That’s good news. It’s very objective. That’s why we wanted a professional to come in.”

(43) comments

Beth56

I would want to make him take a lie detector test!

CaliMom26

Shame on you Stacey Shepard at The Bakersfield Californian. Your are an example of journalism at its finest- biased and politically motivated. The title of your article is flawed and misleads the public. Your title sounds like a third person came forward after the first two in the last few weeks and their accusation was unsubstantiated. In reality, this “third” accuser was actually a precious accuser from 1998 and 2002. Those previous accusations were found unsubstantiated for some unknown reason (probably a cover up). The diocese is merely re-investigating those previous allegations and the fact that the previous allegation was found unsubstantiated has no impact or bearing on the most recent accusers. Stop trying to mislead the public with the title and format of an article. Accurately report the facts. I’m sure the diocese is reopening the previous report to see if it’s similar to the most recent accusations. Maybe there is a common modus operandi.

Robby

Great Californian, very objective of you to remove my comments to Copper

Robby

Copper--

Sounds like you are pretty much an expert on the subject, so lets be objective for a moment. Let's say there is validity to the accusations, and there is embarrassment for the victim(s) to come forward. If the victim truly wanted justice, then the victim would come forward immediately when there are traces of physical evidence, correct? I've worked in healthcare for many years and health professionals strive diligently to keep a victims identity anonymous. So why would the victim be embarrassed? Wouldn't they want justice to be served immediately? I was an 18 year old boy once, and trust me I've also known a lot of heterosexual 18 year old boys, and there is not a one that I've been around that if a "guy" made a sexual advancement toward them, that they wouldn't "damage" the perp. The predominance of 18 year old males are not helpless, and most of the time know all the dirty tricks to get out of a situation of this nature. In fact most of the time, they would land the punch, then report it, then tell their friends how they handled a sex perp. I find it very odd that these accusations are now coming out some twenty years later. We all know that the Catholic Church has had to pay victims enormous amounts in lawsuits in recent years. Due to the nature of our society in these times, it sure wouldn't be beyond the scope, or attractive for someone to want a "pay day" at the expense of an innocent. As a young male and former altar boy, I had many priests put their arm around me, and I guarantee you I would have reacted had it been more than consoling or encouragement. Just seems strange to me that these victims didn't retaliate and then report it. My autistic brother has been an altar boy for many years and I am sure he served under Father Craig. He never told me of any abuse, and he would, I guarantee you. Father Craig was going to "adopt" my brother at his now age of 59 years old, just to see that he got the help he needed (benefits) and should have received long ago. We never saw it through, but he offered. I am sure there are priests that are pedophiles, perps, etc. But it would have to proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man is one of them. It will be investigated and he maybe exonerated, or he may lose his church and congregation or go to jail, but I just hope that someone hasn't blamed him wrongly, because it would be a shame for all of the people he has helped in the past, or would have helped in the future. Thank you

Beth56

My autistic brother has been an altar boy for many years and I am sure he served under Father Craig. He never told me of any abuse, and he would, I guarantee you. Father Craig was going to "adopt" my brother at his now age of 59 years old, just to see that he got the help he needed (benefits) and should have received long ago. Are you for real I mean seriously! That creeped me out! Adopt a 59-year-old "autistic" man? Just to help him out to get his benefits that have been a long time coming? First of all, he wouldn't have to adopt him he could just help him out. Your his brother where have you been all these years, to get help for him. I mean. Is this priest have some kind of special powers that you don't in helping, standing by and speaking for your brother!? I hate to say this but if a grown man adopts another grown man who happens to be autistic, just for $$$ reasons. That's just inappropriate! Actually, it screams it all the way around!

CaliMom26

You really should tell the diocese about that as part of their investigation.

Prov31Woman

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open Luke 8:17

REMUDA

"Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California News Publishers Association, disputed the Sheriff’s Office position on releasing information."
-------
"He said California Government Code specifically allows for the release of information about arrests and incidents, unless to do so would harm an investigation or jeopardize the safety of a victim or witness."
----
“There is nothing in the law that requires them to withhold it,” he said. " (or release it)
---
oops, Jim . . . ! Better read it again . . . !
----
' . . . Specified facts from investigatory or
security records, without disclosure of the
records themselves, must be disclosed unless
disclosure would endanger the successful
completion of an investigation, or related
investigation, or endanger a person involved
in the investigation. Cal. Gov’t Code §§
6254(f)(1), (f)(2) and (f)(3).'
-----
https://www.rcfp.org/wp-content/uploads/imported/POLICE.pdf
-----
There's been NO ARREST . . . NOR ANY REQUIREMENT TO DISCLOSE ALLEGATIONS. . . !
------
Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.
------
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism)

Tired of the BS

I would really hope that any victims would bring their concerns forward.... mind you I’m sure that’s relative to any and all backgrounds, victims of abuse involving political, religious, educational, police etc. It seems focus is just on Monsignor Craig, however I guarantee those figures we really should be looking at, when we tend to look away. What an opportunity to shame the Catholic Church? Really.... hasn’t enough been said about what the church is trying to do to correct the mistakes it has done over the years for their lack of? Doesn’t make it ok to make an example of a good person.

Beth56

Doesn’t make it ok to make an example of a good person.

Does if he's not a good person!

SNAPJudy

Let's hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Monsignor Craig Harrison will find the courage to come forward and contact law enforcement no matter how long ago it happened. Keep in mind that silence only hurts but by speaking up there is a chance for healing and protecting others today.
Judy Jones, SNAP "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" 636-433-2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com

Beth56

Amen!

Tired of the BS

It really is sad.... just as some of you are saying, wait until the investigation is done. Well his character speaks volumes and accusations of this magnitude are detrimental, not just to him but his family. He has children and grandchildren.... all being affected by this. What we’re seeing is assumptions and accusations instead of innocent until proven guilty!

ConcernedCatholic

If Fr. Craig that this was the same guy coming forward again... with the original accusation why didn't he come out in the beginning and say that, if he "reported it himself." Did you report the first accusation yourself? What about the one from Merced?

Copper

I’m sure his attorney told him exactly what to speak on

Beth56

Applause!

Copper

True and that being said it is also important to remember that possible victims and other victims even unrelated to his case could be watching and reading all the comments and deciding if they should come forward.

Beth56

Now that's what I'm talking about! Think if there are others who have been violated they just might want justice but at what price. There aren't 1400 people standing up for the victims YET!

Beth56

I'm confused. Isn't he a priest? Are they allowed to be married now and have offspring?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Wow- writing your own material now? Word of advice: Don't quit your day job...

Fram Smith

Perhaps we should all delay judgement until a complete investigation by law enforcement is completed.How anyone can say anything at this time, without knowing if there is any truth to the aligations by not waiting until a law enforcement decision is made to press charges, it is just unfair.
Doesn't real matter anyway- he is most likely ruined for life in his profession; even if he is completely exonerated.


Copper

And the delay of judgement should go both ways. Possible victims and alleged abuser.

Seekthetruth

I think it's sad that people are defending or accusing until all the facts are in and an investigation in complete. I myself was a child of sexual abuse and I'm almost 40 and told nobody for years! Why because its embarrassing! You feel ashamed. For some of us just trying to move on and heal is what you want. Then when your there and you feel strong you speak up. If you have never been a victim you shouldn't say things you no nothing about "why didn't they say anything" everyone is different and deals with trauma different.

ConcernedCatholic

I stand with the victims of abuse! We should be having a prayer vigil for victims of abuse.... not an accused priest!

Copper

Agreed or it should be a prayer vigil for all parties involved . Period. Anything else is disgusting and gross and an embarrassment to Christianity and a slap in the face to any victim who is still sitting quietly deciding if they should speak out .

Copper

Seek the truth I am so very sorry for what you went through and proud that you have the courage to speak on what happened to you. So many people never come forward because of the exact reasons you stated. Much love and respect to you.

Beth56

Couldn't have said it better!

Beth56

And there it is there. Truer words were never spoken!

awol

Attacking OR defending the man in social media comments or on local airwaves does nothing to change the ultimate truth. The fact that he has done many good things for our local community, or has adopted numerous children, or WHATEVER else has nothing to do with these specific allegations. After all, in this world we live in, acts of kindness/goodness don't cancel out criminal/evil acts. Like everyone else, I hope he is innocent, but I hope -all accused- are innocent until otherwise proven guilty. It seems as if a large part of the community (including some local radio personalities and other powerful folks) are attempting to exonerate him in the court of public opinion. Instead, everyone should let the justice system work as intended and let the truth chips fall where they may...

Beth56

Adopted numerous children? That just gave me the creeps!

Glenn O'Dell

What did the Firebaugh PD do with the report? Didn't they inform the Fresno Diocese of the alleged incident then? Was the report deemed "unsubstantiated" simply because there was no physical evidence or witnesses except the priest and his purported victim? Did either organization interview other potential victims the priest had contact with at that time?

ConcernedCatholic

Plus the fact that people didn't believe accusers in 1998 because priests had much higher respect. If this case in 1998 was his word against the priests... who would authorities believed. Not only that the Dallas Charter came out in 2002, so I am assuming the diocese didn't interview until then. Put the pieces together people!

ConcernedCatholic

Interesting how the Dallas Charter came out in 2002 when this man was finally interviewed by the diocese. Went to the police in 1998... I smell coverup...

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/charter.cfm

Tired of the BS

For those who know Monsignor Craig, we stand in support of him. He is a genuine, caring and honorable human. Yes he has adopted children and not only given love and his devotion to them but his church family as well. My husband and I have too adopted children. And let me tell you where they started was an abusive beginning. Be careful what you say.... as for the accusers making these accusations, amazing that they come forward after so many years. It’s shameful to those who live in fear and do come forward rightfully to seek justice. Those are the ones that need the support, not the ones trying to gain attention.

ConcernedCatholic

What about this man that came forward in 1998 where no one would believe an accuser? It was not until 2002 that people started coming forward because diocese were caught moving priests around, thats when Fresno Diocese interviewed this guy, I am assuming because of the Dallas Charter.

Copper

Tired of the BS you are a pathetic human trying to shame victims . Shame on you .

Tired of the BS

I only hope that victims would come forward for ANY accuser. Instead of being a victim, be a survivor. What’s sad is that when someone takes away from a authentic victim and fabricates stories for their gain. That’s shameful.

JR

The hypocrisy of religious cults turns my stomach. I hope the people who were molested by this priest can find some comfort and relief in knowing that he's at least been publicly identified.

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

Hmmmm...numerous kids accusing...has a lawyer who was quoted in the paper calling past victims “pigs,” hidijg out at his lawyer’s condo on the coast, embracing evil Jagels and other totally corrupt officials and judges, and adopted 9 troubled kids...guilty

Sandy-12345

Another Concerned Citizen: You are innocent until proven guilty. He adopted troubled boys. He couldn’t take them all. He has done an amazing job with these boys and many in our community. Jealous people lash out. I pray he comes out unscathed by all this so he can continue to help so many people.

Copper

Shame on you Sandy-12345. Many guilty people are not convicted and it is very rare for someone to be convicted of these crimes. Just because someone is “nice” and “does good things for people” doesn’t mean they aren’t a perp. Sociopaths are usually very well liked in the community praise and adoration feeds their ego. Everything is for show. Then hey can hide behind their “numerous good deeds” and ignorant sheep for defend them. Not pointing a finger at any particular person yet. But no one should ever ever question a victim and defend the accused publicly unless they witnessed the alleged event. Otherwise you to are guilty of victim shaming and guilty of keeping other victims in similar situations afraid to come forward because they to wouldn’t be believed. Go back to church Sandy and learn something.

Beth56

Jealous people lash out? What are you talking about? I mean that's just moronic?

Beth56

Hit that gavel hard my friend! I agree 100%

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