Statute of Limitations Prevents Charges Moving Forward against Msgr. Craig Harrison
Despite finding the allegations of abuse credible, prosecutors cannot move forward with charges against a prominent priest from Bakersfield. Our hearts ache for the four victims who came forward with allegations and we hope that this story encourages others who experienced abuse to come forward and make a report today.
It is important to recognize that Msgr. Craig Harrison is only avoiding charges because the victim who came forward did so after an arbitrary age restriction in the California statute. Investigators from the district attorney’s office wrote that the claims appeared to be credible but could not be prosecuted due to the statute, not a disbelief in the victim.
It is now up to the Diocese of Fresno to act on Msgr. Harrison. Given the carefully worded statement from the Fresno County District Attorney and the multiple other victims who have come forward with their own stories of abuse perpetrated by the Monsignor, we hope Catholic officials in Fresno do not simply wash their hands of the situation and restore the priest to active ministry. We hope Bishop Joseph Brennan will weigh all these factors carefully and heavily.
As this case shows and researchers have demonstrated, child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the country. Approximately 1 in 10 cases of child sexual abuse are reported, and the average age of a survivor coming forward is 52. Sadly, cases like this one are not uncommon. Survivors fortunately have other opportunities to share their stories and have their cases heard in California, thanks to the civil window that is currently open in the state and the compensation programs run by Catholic officials themselves.
We hope that this news encourages other survivors who may be suffering in silence to come forward and make a report, and we continue to recommend that any victim of abuse in the Diocese of Fresno first contact the police to be sure secular authorities are aware of the complaint. Having that information can help law enforcement piece together patterns of abuse and in so doing, can help to protect the public.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member(firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP San Francisco (email@example.com, 925-708-6175)Zach Hiner, 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)