Friday, February 14, 2020

Fresno County DA says charges against Father Craig Harrison appear credible, but statute of limitations prevents filing of charges

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 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
dating back to the 1990s.
 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.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Longtime local journalist Bob Price is leaving The Californian, Supervisor David Couch serves a zinger in his debate with Emilio Huerta, Rep. Kevin McCarthy loses a dog but gains two puppies and a walk down memory lane in vintage Bakersfield

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... BOB PRICE: Bob Price is one of the most recognized - and respected - brands in local journalism, a gifted writer whose prose has graced the pages of The Bakersfield Californian for three decades. He has done almost every job at the paper - from executive editor to opinion editor to
features editor - and he has done it with grace, humility and wit. Now that the fortunes of print have declined, and the local paper sold last year, speculation has focused on Price's next step. Will it be television? Radio? Academia? One thing is for sure, Price is leaving The Californian as a full-time employee but he is saving details of his next step for The Richard Beene Show on Friday, when he will appear at 2:30 p.m. Tune to hear what this local journalistic icon says is his next move.

 * ... BELMONT STREET: Did you catch the debate on KGET between Supervisor David Couch and his opponent, attorney Emilio Huerta? It wasn't much a debate as debates go, 30 minutes of Huerta dodging questions including a pivotal one regarding reports he doesn't even live in the district. And Couch served a zinger at the end, saying the one thing he and his opponent have in common is that neither lives on Belmont Street in Delane, the address given by Huerta as his home address. As reported earlier, he doesn't live there. Ouch.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My wife loves me so much. First she renewed my life insurance policy for a higher sum and then bought me a solo vacation package to China."

* ... PILOT TRAINING: Did you know that 20,000 pilots, or 13 percent of all the American pilots who flew in World War II, were trained at two air bases in Kern County? That would be Minter Field in Shafter and Gardner Field in Taft. Thanks to retired Maj. Gen. Jim Whitehead for that statistic.

 * ... CYNTHIA ZIMMER: District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer took a nasty fall at the Kern County Fairgrounds while leaving the State of the County dinner a few weeks ago, breaking a rib, her shoulder and her left wrist. Despite that, Zimmer has not missed a day of work. Now that is what you call dedication.

 * ... RIP ED: Friends of Edward Lee, the longtime mechanic at Action Sports who died last week, will gather for a bike ride in his honor this Saturday. Kerry Ryan, owner of the bike shop, said the ride will begin at the Park at River Walk at 10 a.m Saturday. Lee, just 53, died from complications of a stroke.

* ... TEDDY AND CASH: Rep. Kevin McCarthy lost his dog Mac recently, but it didn't take long before a couple of new pups were adopted by the family. Meet Teddy and Cash. You will see plenty of pictures of them in the future.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these pictures of Bakersfield in the 1920s courtesy of the Facebook page "Vintage Bakersfield."

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bishop Joseph Brennan to preside over the Kern Catholic Prayer breakfast as we await word on Father Craig Harrison, the BBC turns to Dr. Jeanine Kraybill for political commentary, and did you catch the "snow moon" this weekend?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CRIME: We should have known this was coming. Petty crime, including the "smash and grabs" that are so common now across Kern County, is exploding thanks to the California legislature
decriminalizing "non violent" offenses. In a bid to relieve prison crowding and reduce the number of minorities incarcerated, the state decriminalized the theft of anything that has a value of under $950, and the results have led to a spike in crime across the state. And now we hear that a group of 100 minors went from store to store at Valley Plaza Saturday randomly stealing merchandise and running out the door. Talk to any retailer and they will tell you the same: people simply walk out with their arms full of merchandise. And how can this be good for California?

 * ...SNOW MOON: Did you catch the full moon this weekend?  It's called the snow moon and it is the second full moon of the year. The February full moon is known most commonly as the snow moon for the abundance of snow in mid-winter. February 2020’s full moon is also considered a supermoon.

 * ... PRAYER BREAKFAST: Bishop Joseph Brennan from the Diocese of Fresno will be presiding over the 2020 Kern Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, March 12. Brennan's visit is coming as we all await word on the fate of Monsignor Craig Harrison, who was suspended last April because of allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with young men as far back at the late 1980s and 1990s. Brennan is expected to make a decision on Harrison after the Fresno County District Attorney's office wraps up its investigation into a case in Firebaugh involving Harrison and a then young man. I am told the Fresno DA may render its decision soon, and it will likely cite the statue of limitations in deciding not to charge Harrison. Does that mean Harrison is not guilty or simply that the statue of limitations has expired? Pick your side, but also pay attention to how the Fresno DA words its statement on Harrison. The devil is always in the details. Meanwhile, Brennan is expected to make the final call soon, and how ironic would it be if Brennan comes to St. Francis for the prayer breakfast and holds court in the Craig Harrison Youth Center?

* ... MEASURE D: It probably should come as no surprise that controversy follows local marijuana advocates, and this time the controversy came over a pro Measure D billboard at the corner of Pacheco and Stine roads. The billboard shows a couple dozen smiling detention deputies indicating that they support the medical marijuaa initiative known as Measure D, supported by David Abassi and other cannabis advocates. The problem: the Kern County Detention Officers Association says the billboard is misleading and it did not give permission to use the photo. “KCDOA has not and will not endorse this controversial measure,” said union President Dustin Alkire “It is exceptionally disgraceful that the Central Valley Cannabis Association would use a picture of our hard-working detentions deputies in this manner.” Measure D is being pushed by local marijuana advocates, and it is no surprise the initiative would allow former pot retailers to go back into business. A competing initiative, Measure E, is supported by the Board of Supervisors and is generally seen as more restrictive.

 * .... HEARTBREAK: We have a serious problem here with abused and abandoned dogs, and thank God for the many volunteer organizations that seek to find homes for abused animals. Check out this post: "Anyone out there with a big heart and a deep wallet?? BAILEY needs to be seen ASAP for a tooth abscess!! You can see her right eye is swollen and she’s in pain. Owner is struggling financially right now and a vet bill was the last thing she needed. When it rains, it pours. We all know that feeling. This dog is in a lot of pain, constantly drooling and can’t eat. We can’t let her suffer. Please donate! She’s going to be seen at Banfield on Oswell Street. You can donations send to PayPal or Venmo @bbbrescue2014 or you can call donations in to Banfield for “RILEY” to (661) 871-0053 once she has been admitted.Please help Bailey!!"

 * ... KRAYBILL: Congratulations to CSUB's Dr. Jeanine Kraybill who has been asked to serve as a U.S. political analyst during the presidential campaign for BBC Breakfast, the most watched morning news program in the United Kingdom. A professor of both political science and religious studies, Kraybill has served as a political analyst for The Richard Beene Show on KERN 96.1 FM for the past three years.

 * ... GEARHART: And congratulations to Dr. Richard Gearhart and his wife Diane Blackburn Gearhart on the birth of their second daughter, Reagan Leigh Gearhart. Reagan was born February 4 at 8:36 a.m. Gearhart is a graduate of Clemson University and is currently a professor of economics at CSUB.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: I spotted this picture on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Who remembers the 2003 sinkhole in front of Jim Burke Ford on Oak Street?

 * ... MEMORIES: Just take a look at his shot, compliments of my friend Art Moore, of Barbra Streisand and James Brolin at Woolgrower's take on July 7, 1998.