Merced District Attorney says Craig Harrison will not be criminally charged

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Msgr. Craig Harrison

MERCED, Calif. (KGET) — The Merced County District Attorney’s office says it will not bring charges against Bakersfield priest Monsignor Craig Harrison, who has denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

The DA’s office said in a news release Friday that Merced police investigated after an alleged victim came forward in April. All evidence and leads were “identified and exhausted” by mid-October, and since that time the DA’s office has evaluated all the evidence.

The news release sent Friday by the Merced County District Attorney’s office.

“All of the incidents described by witnesses took place in Merced County during the years of 1987 and 1988,” the release said. “Based upon the factual circumstances of this case, the filing of charges is prohibited by the applicable statute of limitations; therefore, no charges will be issued.”

Harrison attorney Kyle J. Humphrey said Friday evening the DA’s findings reinforce what he’s been saying all along: Harrison is innocent.

He said the allegations against Harrison have been “so destructive and so painful” to the priest, and he’s been unable to say weddings and be a vital part of the community as he’s done for decades.

Harrison has been on leave since the allegations surfaced in April. He has long served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

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.

An investigation continues into another allegation made in Firebaugh.

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.

Humphrey said they also have a lawsuit pending against a Catholic monk who accused Harrison of misconduct.

The attorney said the only remedy Harrison has against those who have made false statements against him is to file lawsuits seeking damages.

What Harrison has been through the past six months, Humphrey said, “would move any decent man to tears.”

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