BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County judge has denied a motion seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Msgr. Craig Harrison against a former Catholic monk.
Judge Kenneth G. Pritchard’s Nov. 3 ruling on the anti-SLAPP motion filed by Justin Gilligan allows Harrison to continue with his defamation suit against the ex-monk, who is also known as Ryan Dixon. An anti-SLAPP motion is typically filed to stop lawsuits from restricting someone’s freedom of speech.
Harrison sued Gilligan after the monk went public with allegations against the monsignor, the subject of multiple sexual misconduct investigations last year. No charges were filed against Harrison following investigations in Bakersfield, Fresno and Merced. He has maintained he never engaged in inappropriate activity.
Harrison also sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and the organization Roman Catholic Faithful over what he says were defamatory statements. The suit against the diocese has been moved to Fresno County Superior Court. The other two remain in Kern.
The next hearing in the Roman Catholic Faithful suit is scheduled Dec. 3.
Harrison has been on leave as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church since the allegations first surfaced in April of last year.