Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The enduring horror of the image of "falling man" haunts the 9-11 anniversary, the blood feud between Bishop Joseph Brennan and accused sexual abuser Craig Harrison and fewer boys than ever are attending college

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 company or publication.

 * ... SEPTEMBER 11 ANNIVERSARY: Of all the horrific images coming out of September 11, 2001, the visual of "falling man" has haunted me most. The identity of the man, seen falling upside down from an upper floor window of the World Trade Center, remains in dispute but the image stands as mute

testimony of the horror of that day. Remember this day in the appropriate way you choose, but pray we have seen the last images of "falling man."

 * ... BOY, GIRLS AND COLLEGE: There is a disturbing trend in American higher education and if it continues women will be earning college degrees at twice the rate of men. That's right, fewer men than women are going to college and even fewer men are sticking it out to earn a degree. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, at the end of the last academic year women made up 59.5 percent of college students while men accounted for just 40.5 percent. And it's worse at graduation, where after six years of college 65 percent of women received diplomas compared to just 59 percent of the men. Researchers say boys face more obstacles than women, including video games, pornography and childhood related medications.

 * ... BABIES OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE: And here is another sign of the times compliments of the National Academy of Science: more educated American women than ever had their first babies later in life and outside of marriage. In this group, about 24.5 percent of them were between the ages of 32 and 38 when they had their first child, and they weren't married. A decade ago, researchers said it was relatively rare for college educated women to have a child outside of marriage. In fact, these same researchers say non marital childbearing is increasing across all educational levels.

 * ... FRESNO DIOCESE VERSUS CRAIG HARRISON: The bad blood between the Diocese of Fresno and former priest Craig Harrison, who is facing multiple charges of sexual abuse while he was a priest, grew worse over the weekend when Bishop Joseph Brennan released a scathing letter calling into question both Harrison's past actions and his current behavior. At its core, of course, the dispute surrounds the fact that the Diocese suspended Harrison two years ago after seven men came forward to say Harrison abused them, and the fact that the Diocese investigated the claims and found them credible. That has been a difficult thing for Harrison's supporters to stomach, and they have turned their anger on their own

Bishop, arguing Brennan has an obsession with Harrison. But this story has found legs and an audience well outside of Kern County, and an organization that defends sexual abuse victims, called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), issued this statement: "A little more than a month ago, when the Diocese of Fresno finally released its list of credibly accused' clerics, Msgr. Craig Harrison’s name appeared on it. In a media statement following, SNAP demanded that the Diocese be more transparent about their findings, what they knew, and when, as Harrison continued to repudiate these allegations. To us, refusing to acknowledge the external findings by the District Attorney and the findings of the Diocesan review board appeared to be just plain denial by Harrison. A letter from Bishop Joseph Brennan was read this past weekend to parishioners, acknowledging the Diocese had received accusations of abuse from seven children against Harrison. The allegations were first made public in April of 2019. The Bishop said that the review board for the Diocese of Fresno found each accusation 'credible,' which subsequently led to a case being opened at the Vatican against the priest. In shorter words, the judiciary tribunal in Rome will consider whether or not to officially remove the resigned Harrison from the clerical state. We applaud Bishop Brennan for taking this step toward transparency, as we believe it has answered some of our questions. More importantly, this step may well encourage others who were victimized by Harrison or another priest, nun, or religious in the Diocese to find the courage and strength to come forward and report to law enforcement. There is also still time for survivors who have been time-barred from justice to file a civil suit for damages in California, and we encourage those interested to seek legal counsel."

 * ... MEMORIES: Beautiful old picture of the El Tejon Hotel which sat on Truxtun where the Bank of America tower is today. Thanks to the good folks over at the Kern County of Old Facebook page for this one. The picture is circa 1920.

 * ... JAIL: And then there is the old Kern County Jail that was located at the corner of 16th and Eye streets in operation from  May 1894 to December 1915.

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