BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Sacramento attorney and clinical psychologist says he is representing two men from Merced and one from Bakersfield who allege Msgr. Craig Harrison sexually abused them when they were minors.
Joseph George said each man has filed a report with local law enforcement agencies as well as the state attorney general’s office regarding their allegations against the popular Bakersfield priest.
The attorney said he can’t file a lawsuit on behalf of the men because the civil statute of limitations is up. He said he’s representing them pro bono to guide them through the legal process and help ensure law enforcement does a thorough investigation.
Bakersfield police Thursday refused to confirm they have a current investigation involving Harrison. Last week the department said it did not have any open investigations involving the priest.
Allegations against Harrison stunned the Bakersfield community when they surfaced last month. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno said that on April 15 it reported an allegation of sexual misconduct against Harrison to the Firebaugh Police Department.
The accuser in that incident, police said, served as an altar boy and was 16 or 17 years old when the alleged abuse occurred.
A second person alleged sexual misconduct by Harrison days later, saying the abuse occurred while the priest served in Merced.
Harrison has been placed on leave from his position as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church. He has denied any wrongdoing.
His attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, has said the allegations are false and an an effort to get money from the Catholic church.
“These people are committing character assassination on a good man,” Humphrey has said. “We will continue to fight against these false allegations and we will restore Monsignor Craig’s good name and see him reinstated to his rightful place as pastor of Saint Francis parish.”
Victims’ advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said earlier this week a total of five people have contacted it alleging misconduct by Harrison.