BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Fresno County District Attorney’s office said Friday it will not file sexual assault charges against Bakersfield priest Craig Harrison because the statute of limitations has expired.
“While the allegations made against Monsignor Harrison appear credible to investigators,” the DA’s office said, “they reportedly occurred in the 1990s. These allegations were not reported to law enforcement until April of 2019.”
“Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases, but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders,” the office said.
Harrison’s attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, said the decision not to charge his client doesn’t come as a surprise, but the DA’s office’s statement that the allegations were credible “is an outrage.”
“They didn’t investigate it,” Humphrey said. “That’s an absolute misstatement.”
Humphrey said his investigators have interviewed the witnesses who lived in the homes where this alleged abuse happened, and everyone has denied Harrison committed any misconduct.
Also, the attorney said, one alleged victims made accusations against multiple people, including his football coach and parents. Another tried to recruit other people into making accusations against Harrison, he said.
The Fresno DA’s office’s announcement marks an end to investigations into Harrison that were conducted by agencies in three different cities.
In a separate investigation, the Merced District Attorney’s office said in November it would not bring charges against Harrison after police investigated the allegations of an alleged victim who came forward in April.
In July, the Bakersfield Police Department announced it had ended its own investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Harrison and that the priest would not face charges due to insufficient evidence.
Harrison has been on leave since allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in April. He has long served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
The priest has sued Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc., and its founder, Stephen Brady, for publishing and distributing “false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous statements including allegations of sexual misconduct concerning (Harrison),” according to the suit.