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Citing the statute of limitations on charges that it otherwise found "credible," the Fresno County Attorney's Office will not file charges against Monsignor Craig Harrison in a sexual assault case
The revelation came in a press release that was revealing more for what it didn't say, that for what it did. The press release called the sexual assault allegations against Harrison "credible" and said it was "prevented from proceeding with criminal prosecutions when doing so is prohibited by the statute of limitations.
"While there allegations made against Monsignor Harrison appear credible to investigators, they reportedly occurred in the 1990s. These allegations were not reported to law enforcement until April of 2019. Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases, but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders."
It went on to say that while investigators found the allegations against Harrison credible, "we are prevented from proceeding with criminal prosecutions when doing so is prohibited by the statute of limitations."
The end of the investigation by the Fresno DA's office into the allegations, made by a young man while Harrison served as a priest in Firebaugh, now clears the way for Bishop Joseph Brennan to determine if Harrison is kicked out of the church, returned to Bakersfield or transferred to another parish.
The Diocese of Fresno suspended Harrison last April, and since then multiple men have come forward with similar allegations that Harrison manipulated them and subjected them to sexual harassment.
The case has split the Bakersfield community, and some of the most prominent names in Bakersfield have withheld support from St. Francis Parish in protest of the Bishop Brennan's move to suspend Harrison. Some prominent Catholics have even left the church, choosing loyalty to Harrison over devotion to the church.
Insiders have long expected Brennan's decision to come after the Firebaugh case has been concluded, and that clock is now ticking.