FRESNO, Calif. — Paul M. Jonna, the attorney who represented Stephen Brady in a defamation lawsuit, responded to 23ABC about the latest developments in allegations made against Monsignor Craig Harrison.
In light of the finding by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office that the homosexual abuse allegations against Msgr. Craig Harrison are “credible,” it is abundantly clear that Harrison’s civil lawsuit against Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc. (“RCF”) and Stephen Brady is not only frivolous, but malicious and brought in bad faith. Mr. Brady reported neutrally on allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Harrison – expressly stating that he did not know at the time if the allegations were true, and that his investigation would either prove Harrison’s guilt or innocence. Because the Fresno DA has now found “credible” allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Harrison, there is no way he can maintain a defamation case against Brady and RCF. Indeed, the sexual abuse allegations that Mr. Brady addressed at the press conference were made in the same time period and location as the allegations the Fresno DA found “credible” (Firebaugh in the 1990’s). Therefore, if Harrison refuses to dismiss his baseless civil lawsuit against Brady and RCF, then they will sue Harrison for malicious prosecution after they defeat his claims and seek their attorneys’ fees as well as punitive damages. We believe that Harrison’s civil lawsuit is an attack on the First Amendment and citizen reporting, and that it is being used for the improper purpose of attempting to silence and intimidate reporters and even victims. Thus, Mr. Brady and RCF will vigorously defend against Harrison’s baseless claims and pursue all available remedies against him.
On Friday the Fresno County District Attorney's Office announced no criminal charges will be filed against Msgr. Harrison, who is accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
In their statement, Fresno DA officials said "while the allegations made against Monsignor Harrison appear credible to investigators, they reportedly occurred in the 1990’s. These allegations were not reported to law enforcement until April of 2019. Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases, but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders.