NewsCovering Kern County


Details into accusations against Monsignor Harrison of alleged sexual abuse in 1988

Posted at 5:49 PM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 03:06:59-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Merced Police say a man filed a report with them on Friday, April 26 after seeing media coverage of sexual misconduct accusations against Monsignor Craig Harrison.

According to Lt. Jay Struble, the man claims sexual misconduct occurred one time and not on church grounds in 1988. Struble said as of now his department is not releasing where the incident occurred for the integrity of the investigation.

Struble said the Merced Police department is working with Firebaugh Police as well as the Diocese of Fresno as they work towards completing their own investigations into accusations made against Harrison.

Struble says, “Some of this occurred back 30 years ago, we’re trying to work with other agencies to find out if their victims were in Merced at the time, because 30 years people are going to move, they could be living in Bakersfield, Firebaugh, Fresno, of Madera."

According to the Diocese of Fresno, Harrison was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy, St. Patrick's and Sacred Heart in Merced from September 1987 to July 1989 prior to relocating to St. Francis in Bakersfield.

Dr. Joseph George, a clinical psychologist and attorney out of Sacramento, is representing the alleged victim. He told 23ABC's Josh Sanders, that his client "recognized father Craig and immediately knew why father Craig was on the news.” He went on to describe the man's interaction with Harrison as "lewd and lascivious conduct with the Monsignor." His client says that Harrison pulled down his pants, pulled down his underwear and felt up and down both of his legs from his ankles to his thighs while Harrison was on his knees looking for lesions which would point to him using drugs.

According to George, his client's parents sought out Harrison because he had a reputation for working with troubled youth.

23ABC reached out to Merced's District Attorney Kimberly Lewis who wouldn't comment due to the active investigation by the Merced Police.

Monsignor Craig Harrison's attorney Kyle Humphrey released this statement:

"This confirms our expectation of both Mr. George’s involvement in the case, and of the lack of credibility of these accusations. We are still hopeful that we will receive the name of the accuser, and welcome further investigation into this claim so that we can fully exonerate Monsignor Craig."