Victim Rights March08

Monsignor Craig Harrison delivers the invocation at the Liberty Bell downtown during a Victims Rights March, in this file photo.

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office will not file criminal charges against the Rev. Monsignor Craig Harrison following allegations of inappropriate touching, the office said in a news release Friday afternoon.

Because the alleged incidents happened in 1987 and 1988, charges are prohibited because the statute of limitations has expired, the news release said. The release said the decision followed an exhaustive investigation by the Merced Police Department and staff from the district attorney’s office.

“We are grateful for the hard work and effort of the Merced District Attorney and Merced Police Department in reviewing the allegations in this instance,” Kyle Humphrey, one of Harrison’s attorneys, wrote in an email to The Californian. “We expected and believed that no charges would be filed because Msgr. Harrison is innocent.”

The investigation was initiated after a confidential victim came forward to the Merced Police Department in April, the news release said.

“Staff from the District Attorney’s Office worked with the Merced Police Department, and in mid-October, both agencies concluded that all available evidence and leads had been identified and exhausted,” the news release said.

The allegation under investigation came from a man who said Harrison touched him inappropriately at St. Patrick’s Church in Merced when the man was 16. The man spoke to The Californian earlier this year on condition of anonymity and said his parents had suspected he was using drugs and took him to see Harrison, whom they heard had a good reputation for helping troubled teenagers.

The man said he remembers going to a different part of the church with Harrison, because Harrison wanted him to provide a urine sample for a drug test. While the man was in the bathroom, he said, Harrison entered and touched him inappropriately.

The man said he went to Merced police earlier this year with his story after learning Harrison was placed on paid leave by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno for a separate allegation of sexual misconduct.

In addition to the Merced case, similar allegations against Harrison were filed with the Bakersfield and Firebaugh police departments.

The Bakersfield Police Department announced in July that its investigation yielded no corroborating evidence and no charges would be filed. The investigation also dealt with allegations for which the statute of limitations had expired.

Firebaugh police are investigating two accusations against Harrison. It was unclear what the status of that investigation was Friday. A woman who answered the phone Friday said no officer was available to speak with a reporter.

Stacey Shepard can be reached at 661-395-7417.

(18) comments

REMUDA

" . . . criminal charges won't be filed against Harrison."

Case closed.

Except his lawsuit against those ignoramus 'Catholic-Baiters'

"When someone says I'm Catholic BUT . . . it means they're really NOT Catholic!" (Bishop Fulton Sheen)

Chad Hathaway

I admire Monsignor Craig for standing up for himself. Knowing the overwhelming amount of good he’s done for our community and the void that’s been created by these accusations that he continues to prove faulty I think we as a community have to eventually make a decision. Everyone wanted due process for the accusers..,well you got it and nothing is sticking. How much more information does our community need before we demand to bring back this great man to do what God blessed him to do? I’m not hiding behind some concealing user name nor afraid to put my name behind this man.,...he was never afraid to support us. Where do you stand?

Mrknowitall

Ummm. You waited over a year to not be “afraid to my name behind this man”. Where was your public faith in him before the cards started falling in his favor? Harrison is a Driller. Go CH.

LocalCatholic

Well said Chad! I completely agree.

RefereeB

If this was a Statue of Limitations issue, they could have ruled on this within weeks. The real story is that Father Craig is innocent. Had that not been the case they would have said, “while we have evidence, the statute of limitations has expired.”

This being the case, I would say that when it come to these crimes accused, there should be no statute of limitations, ever, period!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Agree 100%.

Like you mentioned, if they found factual evidence, they would've included it in the press release.

And yes, the statute of limitations should be revised; although I believe California just extended it to from two years (crazy) to 10 years last year.

RefereeB

Not enough! No limit. This is as serious as murder!

Moardeeb

No, no it's not.

Jerry Todd

Today, Roger Stone was convicted of lying to Congress. He is scheduled to spend the rest of his relatively young life in prison. Which sins are unforgivable? There is something wrong when a man of Msgr Craig Harrison's character and contributions to the community's poor, homeless, worshippers, youth, needy and families in distress are to be destroyed by one or two accusers from years ago, coached by a law firm experienced in enticing alleged victims and collecting money otherwise intended to serve the people.

Mrknowitall

It is NOT as serious as murder. Child rape is.

These cats were teenagers n old enough to fend off advances. Don’t get crazy with the over-the-top stuff. You just taint the reality of the issue with bonkers jazz

Mrknowitall

There is zero basis to claim “if they found evidence they would have included it in the report”. WHO told you that? Nobody. That’s right. So don’t foist your suppositions n assumptions on folks and quit trying to push them as facts.

(That’s my gig). Lol

Veritas

‘don’t foist your suppositions n assumptions on folks and quit trying to push them as facts’. You are talking about yourself on this one you crazy ol’ loon. You need to go back to watching your “All in the Family” reruns in your room in the old folks home and stop trying to be witty in this rags comments sections. My work for the betterment of the community is now done for today.

Mrknowitall

It’s a he said vs he said multi-decades ago cases

How much evidence is preserved on a non-murder case for 30 years. Quit it.

LocalCatholic

The truth will always prevail! God bless Monsignor Craig, a holy and faithful man of God.

SNAP lies

When you are innocent good things happen! Wait for the 384 deposition it will rock Bakersfield

ISpy

"When you are innocent, good things happen." Yeah, just ask Jesus...

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You obviously didn't finish the book...

Moardeeb

Yes just ask the innocent who are falsely imprisioned. Central Park 5 anyone

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