Monsignor Craig Harrison filed a defamation lawsuit in Kern County Superior Court today against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.
Harrison’s attorney, Kyle Humphrey, said the defamation lawsuit involves the Diocese itself as well as Diocese spokeswoman Teresa Dominguez regarding the sexual misconduct allegations that have been made about him.
Humphrey said the lawsuit is based on defamatory statements made by Dominguez on behalf of the Diocese in a May 2019 article on KQED.
In the article, Dominguez stated that she believed a man who had first reported sexual abuse allegations decades ago.
“I personally expressed my concern for him; told him that I believed him, and apologized for the pain this matter has caused him. I told him that I will support him and be an advocate for him in any way I can,” Dominguez said in an email statement published in the report.
Harrison has filed two other lawsuits relating to the sexual abuse allegations, but this is the first involving the Diocese of Fresno.
The newest lawsuit comes as the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office announced last week that it will not file sexual assault charges against Harrison because the statute of limitations has expired. However, the DA’s Office said the allegations were credible.
The decision marked the 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 had been on leave since allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in April. He had long served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.