Diocese Of Fresno Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse Resigns

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Monsignor Craig Harrison, a Diocese of Fresno priest accused of child sexual abuse, has resigned from the church and his pastor position at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield.

The diocese, in a brief statement on Friday, acknowledged the resignation but declined to comment on it.

Harrison was placed on administrative leave in April 2020 when allegations of child sexual abuse against him first came out: an adult male said he touched him inappropriately at least three times when he was an altar boy in his teens at St. Joseph Church in Firebaugh.

Several Diocese of Fresno priests have been put on administrative leave regarding allegations of sexual misconduct, but the diocese is one of only two in the state to not publicly release a list of priests with credible sexual abuse allegations against them.

Fresno County’s District Attorney’s Office said no charges would be filed against Harrison in early 2020 due to statute of limitations issues, but the office also said investigators considered the allegations against Harrison to be credible.

Merced County’s DA office also said no charges would be filed against Harrison in late 2019 due to statute of limitations issues.

Harrison is suing the Fresno diocese for defamation. Harrison, according to allegations in a July 2020 appellants’ opening brief, is engaged “in a pattern of rank intimidation against those who speak against him.”

The court document claims Harrison intimidates his accusers “using all of his extensive resources and connections in his local community,” stating, “he’s sued a victim, an investigator, and his own diocese – and enlisted his brother to engage in a campaign of harassment.”

The court document contains multiple child sexual abuse allegations against Harrison. The accusations allege that Harrison:

  • Examined multiple minors’ genitals with a flashlight every morning while assigned to Our Lady of Mercy parish in Merced
  • Fondled the genitals of a minor, who later committed suicide, “to see if he was using drugs, and would demand sexual favors in return for helping him with police trouble”
  • Sexually abused a minor in Bakersfield “seven to nine times over a four-year period” after telling him things such as “you’re so special in my heart,” giving him money, buying him alcohol and giving him two cars
  • “Had inappropriate encounters with at least three minors” while assigned to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Firebaugh
  • Had “three inappropriate interactions with another minor between 2003 and 2006” in Bakersfield


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