BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Monsignor Craig Harrison has filed a civil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Faithful and its founder, according to a press release from his attorney, Kyle Humphrey.
The press release stated that the case is filed in the Kern County Superior Court and is "the first in a series of legal actions to restore the reputation and good name of Monsignor Craig Harrison and to hold accountable these defendants for their false, malicious and reckless accusations."
23ABC obtained a copy of the lawsuit which stated that the founder and president of the Roman Catholic Faithful website, Stephen Brady, published false and defamatory statements regarding sexual misconduct allegations made against Msgr. Craig Harrision. Brady is well-known for rooting out corruption in the Roman Catholic Church.
"We were shocked that he would want to do this while multiple ongoing criminal investigations are still open and the diocese is still investigating," Attorney Paul M Jonna of Limandri & Jonna LLP said.
The lawsuit claims Brady published false defamatory, libelous, and slanderous statements about Msgr, Craig Harrison, including that he had sex with two high school students while a pastor in Firebaugh. The lawsuit also claimed that Brady said Msgr. Craig Harrison would examine boy's private parts every morning. Another claim stated that he had sex with a minor in a Ford Explorer and that teen committed suicide following abuse by Monsignor.
The lawsuit follows the Bakersfield Police Department's decision to close its investigation into allegations of sexual battery against Monsignor Craig Harrison last month. Bakersfield police said they did not have sufficient evidence to continue the investigation.
Monsignor and his attorney filed the suit in unlimited court which means they are seeing up to $25,000 in damages for medical bills, loss of income and impairment of earning capacity following the published statements.
"We believe it is a mistake on Monsignor's behalf because now the truth of the statements is now an issue in the case and is subject to discovery and can be tested," Jonna said.
We reached out to Msgr. and his attorney and they declined to comment.
"Brady has a proven track record for rooting out corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and has substantial evidence supporting his statements and this goes against first amendment rights," Jonna said.
We also reached out to the Diocese of Fresno to check the status of Harrison's case and they did not respond. 23ABC also reached out to the Merced and Firebaugh police departments along with both DA offices to know where their investigations stand and no one responded.
You can view the full lawsuit below: