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Diocese of Fresno addresses Craig Harrison allegations

Harrison lawyer responds
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Posted at 4:53 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 20:02:06-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — On Sunday those in attendance at St. Francis Assisi and those listening via the parish's Facebook page heard more from the Diocese of Fresno regarding former Monsignor Craig Harrison.

This is after the diocese released a list of priests in August that had been determined to face a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the diocese and Craig Harrison was included.

The letter aimed to explain more on the church's 'no comment' stance since 2019 when allegations first surfaced and through ongoing litigation. But Bishop Joseph Brennan wrote the diocese did begin an internal investigation after receiving allegations of misconduct against Harrison involving seven minors. It said that the review, which found those claims to be credible, could only be completed once all law enforcement agencies involved had finished their work.

Brennan discouraged followers from calling Harrison 'monsignor' or 'father' and emphasized the religious requirements needed to administer pastoral care.

The former priest resigned in February. The letter said he now runs a private counseling business.


Diocese of Fresno addresses Craig Harrison allegations

Kyle J. Humphrey, who represents Harrison, sent 23ABC a statement in regards to Sunday’s letter:

"It's bewildering to me at this late point -- to have the bishop continue this mean-spirited obsession toward Craig Harrison. He's not part of the church anymore and he's just out making a living on his own -- while the bishop is rehashing these old claims, this is just mean -- you don't talk about it. It really is an obsession and ridiculous thing to do. That letter ties back to the fact that all the bishop wants to do is humiliate Craig, due to his lawsuit against the diocese. If the bishop's goal was to make people leave their faith and the church, well then he absolutely is accomplishing that with this obsessive behavior."

In addition, SNAP, which describes itself as "the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities," issued the following statement Tuesday morning:

"We applaud Bishop Brennan for taking this step toward transparency, as we believe it has answered some of our questions. More importantly, this step may well encourage others who were victimized by Harrison or another priest, nun, or religious in the Diocese to find the courage and strength to come forward and report to law enforcement. There is also still time for survivors who have been time-barred from justice to file a civil suit for damages in California, and we encourage those interested to seek legal counsel. In addition, Attorney General Rob Bonta is still collecting information in an ongoing investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the state, and those who experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse can use this link to report."

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