Previous “Unsubstantiated” Allegation against Msgr. Harrison Now Believed by Fresno Church Officials
For immediate release, May 20, 2019
We are grateful that Church officials from the Diocese of Fresno have the wisdom to recognize that past allegations against Msgr. Craig Harrison were likely improperly investigated, swept under the rug, or otherwise ignored, and are reviewing those allegations again. We are glad that current Church administrators are willing to admit that the old regime made mistakes and are making efforts to find survivors of the Monsignor today.
At the same time, we fear that other victims who came forward and reported to Church officials in the past were likely treated in the same way: disbelieved, ignored, and shooed away. We also wonder how many other priests had the allegations against them “unsubstantiated” simply because the clergymen in question were popular or dynamic. Church officials often tout their “independent review boards” as safeguards against situations like the one playing out in Bakersfield right now, but if those same IRBs were wrong on this case it stands to reason that they likely got many others wrong as well.
Yet again we are shown that internal, diocesan investigations are deficient at best and biased at worst. The only antidote to this scandal is complete transparency. Bishop Joseph Brennan should provide the records of all accused priests to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office. The Bishop should welcome an outside investigation into not only possible sex crimes and cover ups, but also a review of the past procedures and internal findings that led to the early allegation against Msgr. Harrison being considered “unsubstantiated.”
Now that Church officials in the Diocese of Fresno are grappling with the failures of their predecessors, we hope they will beg any witness or victim – of Msgr. Harrison or any other – to make a report to police, prosecutors, and the office of the attorney general.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member (firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-341-6417), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP California (email@example.com, 925-262-3699) Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator, (firstname.lastname@example.org, 925-708-6175), Esther Hatfield Miller, SNAP Los Angeles (562-673-9442, email@example.com), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)