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Fresno DA: Allegations against Harrison 'appear credible' but charges won't be filed

Monsignor Craig Harrison

Monsignor Craig Harrison

The Fresno County District attorney will not file criminal sexual assault charges against Monsignor Craig Harrison even though the allegations seemed credible to investigators because the statute of limitations has expired, the office said in a news release Friday.

"Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders," the news release said.

No details were given by the Fresno DA on the allegations investigated other than to say they happened in the 1990s. The Californian previously reported that two separate accusations against Harrison were made to the Firebaugh Police Department.

"Of course we're happy to get the last of the nonsense done with," said Harrison's attorney, Kyle Humphrey.

The investigation into the Fresno County cases was the last of three law enforcement inquiries undertaken since sexual misconduct accusations against Harrison surfaced last year. Bakersfield Police and Merced Police also conducted investigations that resulted in no charges being filed.

The Fresno DA was the only agency to say the allegations against Harrison appeared credible.

Humphrey questioned the integrity of the investigation, however, noting the Fresno DA's office never interviewed Harrison about the allegations.

In April, Harrison was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Diocese of Fresno after it announced it had received a report of sexual misconduct that allegedly happened three decades ago. Following that announcement, the diocese received more allegations and the alleged victims were instructed to file police reports to the agency where the alleged abuse occurred.

The diocese is also undertaking its own investigation of Harrison, which has not yet been completed.

"It is now up to the Diocese of Fresno to act on Msgr. Harrison," the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement released late Friday. "Given the carefully worded statement from the Fresno County District Attorney and the multiple other victims who have come forward with their own stories of abuse perpetrated by the Monsignor, we hope Catholic officials in Fresno do not simply wash their hands of the situation and restore the priest to active ministry."

Harrison has denied all the allegations made against him. He fought back by filing two defamation lawsuits last year — one against Steven Brady, a Catholic activist, and another against Ryan Dixon, who worked alongside Harrison at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield. A third lawsuit is expected to be filed soon against Teresa Dominguez, an employee of the Fresno diocese, said Harrison's attorney Craig Edmonston on Friday.

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