Following shocking sexual misconduct allegations against Monsignor Craig Harrison, many in the community are in full support the priest, but others caution that we must believe survivors of sexual assault.
Harrison has served Kern County for 31 years as a spiritual leader in nearly a dozen local churches.
He has also adopted nearly a dozen children in his lifetime.
Much of the community believes the allegations are baseless.
“Father Harrison, if you hear this, I know you’re not guilty of anything they say,” said parishioner Angie Castro.
“When you look at the character of this individual, I think Monsignor Craig is going to actually overcome these allegations,” said criminal defense attorney David Torres.
“He’s not one who uses people. I think he makes himself perhaps vulnerable to those who want to take advantage of that,” said Monsignor Frost of Christ the King Church.
In response to the sexual misconduct allegations, Harrison wrote on Facebook in part: “I am also saddened that in today’s climate of fear, I have not been given any information to allow me to defend my honor and service to Christ.”
Some parishioners like Juanita Pedilla wondered, “if it did happen, why did they wait so much time to accuse him of something he probably did ten, 20 years back? Why now?”
However, others warn that allegations of this nature still must be taken seriously–in a climate where survivors are often not believed.
Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, the Firebaugh Police Department and Diocese of Fresno must go through an investigation.
If you have been a victim of unreported sexual misconduct, you can call the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault at 322-0931.