Victim Rights March08

Monsignor Craig Harrison delivers the invocation at the Liberty Bell downtown during a Victims Rights March.

A victims advocacy group has been contacted by five people in the past week who claim to be victims of sexual abuse by Monsignor Craig Harrison, according to a volunteer with the organization.

Esther Hatfield Miller, a native of Bakersfield, who is a volunteer leader for The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests in California, said she's spoken directly with four people — one person who claimed abuse by Harrison in Bakersfield and three who say they were abused by Harrison in Merced and surrounding areas.

The fifth accuser contacted another SNAP volunteer on Monday, Hatfield Miller said.

Additional details of the allegations will come out in a news conference the group plans to hold Tuesday morning at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

Teresa Dominguez, communications director the Fresno diocese, said she hopes the victims who've contacted SNAP will also contact law enforcement where the abuse took place, and also contact the diocese. 

"The Diocese would also appreciate being informed so that we can provide the appropriate outreach," she said.

SNAP officials and attorneys who work with victims of church sex abuse said they do encourage victims to file reports with police but said some victims feel uncomfortable doing so. 

For example, Harrison has close ties with the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office, where he serves as chaplain. 

Kyle Humphrey, an attorney for Harrison who also attends Harrison's church in Bakersfield, was not immediately available but has strongly denounced the accusations. 

"We welcome an honest investigation into these claims so that we can fully exonerate Monsignor Craig and restore him to his rightful position as pastor of St. Francis Parish," Humphrey said over the weekend.

Hatfield Miller said the alleged victims are all men who say they were abused by Harrison when they were minors. One man contacted her through Facebook after she commented on a story about Harrison, defending the initial victims who had come forward. 

The diocese first disclosed an allegation of sexual misconduct it received against Harrison on April 25, the day it placed the popular local priest on paid leave. That same day, it heard from a second man alleging abuse by Harrison in the late 1980s in Merced. And the diocese also disclosed a past allegation had been reported to police in Firebaugh, northwest of Fresno, in 1998.

It's unclear if the five alleged victims SNAP heard from are the same people in the allegations the diocese disclosed last week.

Hatfield Miller said two of the accusers she spoke to said they reported to the abuse to the diocese as far back as three decades ago, and a third reported it 14 years ago.

The news of accusations have roiled the community. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood posted on Facebook, "Remember, in our country, Innocent until PROVEN guilty!" Meanwhile hundreds of supporters rallied at a Wednesday service at St. Francis Church in support of Harrison. 

Incidentally, Hatfield Miller attended St. Francis Church as a child in Bakersfield before her family relocated to Southern California.

She herself is a victim of church sex abuse. She sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2003 for sexual abuse by a deacon in the LA area when she was a teenager, and received a multi-million dollar settlement. She said she used her settlement money to become a trauma recovery coach and now volunteers to help victims who come forward deal with the flood of emotions they experience.

She said she believes Harrison's accusers.

"I would bet all of my settlement money that they were telling the truth," she said. "I would lay it all down. ... The level of detail. You can’t make it up."

(35) comments

Beth56

Dates of service
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has provided the following dates of service for Msgr. Craig Harrison:

Sept. 12, 1987 to June 21, 1989: Our Lady of Mercy, St. Patrick’s and Sacred Heart, Merced
September

June 22, 1989 to Oct. 16, 1991: St. Francis, Bakersfield

Oct. 17, 1991 to June 30, 1992: St. Francis, Mojave

July 1, 1992 to June 30, 1999: St. Joseph, Firebaugh

July 1, 1999 to present: St. Francis, Bakersfield[thumbdown]
Ok here's a break down of where this priest has been serving since 1987. It looks suspiciously strange. Lime he was bouncing all over the place. It's hard to hit a moving target! I don't care what anyone says about these victims that the reasons are unknown why they're coming out now. It's because children are easily manipulated! If he threatened them and said that the child would be in trouble not him or just about anything he could say or do to "intimidate" like these things here. To frighten, menace, terrify, scare, alarm, terrorize, overawe, awe, cow, subdue, discourage, daunt, unnerve;
I was molested when I was a child and told nobody about it because of the things listed above. However as an adult I confronted, well more like frightened, my molester. I think it is so bizzare that grown men would go to such great lengths to accuse a priest of all people, of molesting them as children. The fact that he adopted troubled male children sends up red flags all over the place. Why would he leave town after all the support from countless, and in my opinion, misguided folks? That right there took him into another county. The disoces have found him to be a person of interest but all of a sudden he's got victims that are unsubstantiated? Where is a priest to be judged about molesting children only reviewed by other priests. What about the victims of these crimes? This isn't Vatican City the police should have yanked him in and grilled him the same way a nonpriest would be treated. What is the percentage of the outcome when it comes to these cases. I think the church against pedofiles in the order who are found innocent or guilty swings way over to not guilty? It like they can do just about anything that they CHOOSE to because it makes the church look bad because the church doesn't want to look bad!! The people on here that just think he is the greatest priest ever are all ready to hack off heads for accusing the priest of such horrid things. Let the DA in whatever county he is in now yank him in talk to him and give him a lie detector test. Or do other priests give him one at the church. I'm sorry but this priest isn't making himself look like a truthful person just a runaway priest that hasn't stayed in town for personal reasons. Molesters to these really disgusting things to kids and then leave town. They don't want to go to jail and I would think so would a priest!!

Copper

Beth I’m so sorry for what happened to you . I believe you and support you. I hope you are getting the help you need to deal with such a violation of trust and betrayal . The bishop put out a very appropriate letter in support of victims , a step in the right direction.

IMO

STACEY SHEPARD . Now can we have an article about the history of SNAP? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? There are too many people passing judgment either way, based upon the current reporting focused on the alleged. How about an in depth article about SNAP for everyone to read.

Copper

IMO how about we focus on the VICTIMS! And support gem in coming forward and tell their stories.

Nevermind

Give us your analysis of SNAP......show us how they aren't advocates and they just bash Priests. Until then we all have opinions on lkelihoods. He won't be defrocked or serve time based on a bloggers opinion. If you want to sway people towards undeserved persecution, state your case. SNAP has already issued an apology to a Missouri Priest for unfounded allegations. SNAP is not squeaky clean in its quest to out predators. But what is the suggestion here, an organized plot paying off 5 people to lie? Hopefully you do agree, there has been plenty of Priest crimes and plenty of evidence of cover ups. It's not Church bashing to admit Church misdeeds, it's simple history. I hope the guy is exonerated, but I'm more interested in the truth and justice for victims, whether it is for fabricating lies, or pedophillia.

Copper

If the church did their job and protected kids instead of priests SNAP wouldn’t even have to exist.

Nevermind

Blogs are about opinions. We aren't jurors. Of course everyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty. That doesn't mean we should all remain quiet. My opinion before his trial was that Bill Cosby was a hypocritical predator, THEN that opinion was substantiated. But my pretrial opinion didn't put him in the slammer, evidence did. My opinion is that in the north, there are polar bears. Have I seen a polar bear in the north? No. Does that mean they don't exist? My OPINION is, he's guilty. Will my opinion incarcerate him? No. Can I change my opinion? Yes. Even if he is exonerated by a lack of evidence, does that necessarily mean he's never touched someone innappropriately. No.
When Cosby was outed, first a couple of women were called gold digging liars, nobody said they were innocent until proven liars. Then there were 8 "liars". Then there were 20, then there were 60 "liars". Then his own personal valet was a "liar".
Whether you like someone or not, what everyone should be after is the truth. That's what investigations are for. The Church cannot be trusted to come to their own conclusion, and Youngblood opening up his yapper taints the process. He has a right to an opinion like the rest of us, but that's tantamount to Bob Muller giving his opinion over the last two years. Hopefully the truth will be exposed, and justice prevails. You want to know why young kids don't come forward, look at all the remarks. As a 12 year old Altar Boy, a Priest is the next thing to a god. Is it worth it to go after God? Most of the time these victims come forward not for themselves, but for future victims. Yes, innocent until proven guilty, but we all have a right to our opinion.

Vavoom

very concerning that our Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood posted on Facebook, "Remember, in our country, Innocent until PROVEN guilty!" ....donny, should we just shoot him as it will save the tax payers money? you were recorded directing your staff to shoot people essentially not giving them the chance to face justice but you post to give this priest that chance? hypocrisy...i hope you dont have to investigate any piece of this case as you display your bias!

Grandma Tam

If Monsignor Craig Harrison is guilty of these egregious, disgusting, disturbing, and very gross allegations that seem to come from so many people for such a long time, then he truly is the definition of all evil. There is nothing churchlike or Godlike about child molestation and pedophilia. If he is truly a man of God, he would come clean and take accountability for his wrongdoings and not continue to pretend he is clueless and doesn't know what is happening. These investigations have been going on for years. He's been questioned and counseled about this. This has been a recurring theme in his life. Lying about it now only makes him look guilty and sinister, and it further ruins the reputation of the church. This is not the time to quote scripture and/or lean on the wonderful people of Bakersfield who love him to the end of the earth. This is the time Father Craig should stop being a politician and tell the truth.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

So, you know he is lying? Care to share what information you have to support this?
I see people on both sides or the issue saying equally crazy things right now- He's been found guilty without one bit of evidence being presented (publicly) by many people here and other side continues with a "There's NO WAY he could've possibly done those things", some apparently forgetting that we are all human, and therefore imperfect beings.
How about we let the justice system do what it is designed to do, then all the Monday Morning Quarterbacking can continue until the end of time?
I am shocked by the number of people that claim Msgr. has to "prove" his innocence; that is what scares me the most- I don't think we want to live in a country where people are assumed guilty after an allegation with no corroborating evidence. The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of our judicial system, yet many that have posted here seem to be just fine with trashing that principle altogether...

Beth56

There's a really big difference in being flawed and molesting. I'd rather be an imperfect person than a liar who happens to be a priest.

IMO

" He's been questioned and counseled about this. This has been a recurring theme in his life. " Interesting information. Can you expand on when he was counseled and the recurring theme? Not looking for opinion. Do you have facts we can reference?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Crickets from Grandma...I'd be very interested if she did indeed have any facts to reference, but likely just bloviating while getting caught up in the moment...

Beth56

You said a mouthful!! Well done my friend!!

SNAPJudy

These brave victims are to be commended for their courage in coming forward and speaking up. 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

LocalCatholic

Is there any concrete evidence for ANY of these accusations?

Boris25

By, "concrete evidence" do you mean a video tape of the allegations? i really doubt it. A person i have known for over 35 years confided in me a few days ago that Harrison had touched him appropriately on several occasions when he was an alter boy at Saint Francis Church. I have encouraged him to come forward with his accusations, but because of people like you, he is hesitant to do so..

KenWitham

I assume you meant "...inappropriately on several occasions..." I would hope that your friend would come forward and share his own experience with the accused. The more people claiming the same abuse without regard to financial remuneration, the more likely it will be accepted as the truth.

Beth56

Appropriately? Typo?

Vavoom

the people who came forward are the evidence... do you need pictures of a priest grabbing a young child to find it true? what would satisfy your idea of evidence?

Beth56

Amen!!!

Beth56

Not yet it's going to slip through the cracks soon.

This unspeakable monster, now exposed, is DONE...

Beth56

Burnt too..

PedoHater

When will this town stop supporting child molestors?

Beth56

Big thumbs up!

JR

It doesn't matter. A thousand people can come forward and people will still believe what benefits them, not the victim.

lrlopez74

So, Bakersfield, how did your rally in support of Pedophile Catholic Priests turn out?

PedoHater

They are clutching their pearls hoping this all goes away

Beth56

Lol I'm sorry but lol...

Jerry Todd

SNAP is far from an advocacy group. Ay Catholics involved would be seeking healing, instead of legal satisfaction for long ago alleged events. This well-funded anti-Church group was thoroughly revealed in 2011'

SNAP UNRAVELS – Catholic League
www.catholicleague.org/snap-unravels
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. At the end of 2011, a Missouri judge ordered David Clohessy, the president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), to be deposed regarding his role in cases of priestly sexual abuse. Clohessy fought the order vigorously, but lost.

Nevermind

Regardless of your opinion of SNAP, or its agenda, hopefully you will agree with the overwhelming mountain of evidence of not only individual Priest acts of criminality, but the systematic cover up of these crimes which is a crime itself. You can talk about forgiveness all you want, you didn't, as a young impressionable child, have a same sex adult under the authority of God grab your testicles. God forgives, United States Law does not. If he's innocent great, if he's not yes, God will judge him, but not before 12 of his peers do. Yay America.

Beth56

Now that has to be the smartest thing I've read on here!! Well done!!!

ConcernedCatholic

Yeah he's innocent...............

Jerry Todd

I'm so glad your heart is full of love and joy.

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