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Child sexual abuse survivors’ lawsuits allege abuse by prominent Bakersfield priest

Attorneys & advocates beg Bishop of Fresno to join the majority of California dioceses and release names of credibly accused predatory clerics to public

WHAT: At a news conference tomorrow, survivor advocates and attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates will reveal the filing of two child sex abuse lawsuits against the Fresno diocese and one of its most high-profile clerics.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 – 1:00 PM PST

WHERE: DoubleTree by Hilton Fresno Convention Center
2233 Ventura St.
Fresno, CA 93721
Room: Salon 1 A

WHO: Attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates, who represent the survivors filing lawsuits under the California Child Victims Act as Joseph Does. Survivor advocate Joelle Casteix will present survivors’ statements. Attorney Elizabeth del Cid will be available for Spanish-speakers and press.

WHY: Two civil child sexual abuse lawsuits will be filed accusing Fresno diocesan priest, Msgr. Craig Francis Harrison of sexually abusing boys and Fresno Catholic officials of ignoring and concealed his crimes.

Statement of Joseph Doe: “Msgr. Harrison hurt me when I was an altar boy at St. Francis. I was just a kid, and he used his position of power as a priest to abuse me. Msgr. Harrison stole my childhood, and every day since then I have lived with shame. I want the Bishop to start protecting kids. I want the Bishop to stop helping abusers. I want the Bishop to stop keeping secrets about abuse.”

On April 12, 2019, a survivor made a report of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by Msgr. Harrison to the Diocese of Fresno. Three days after receipt of this report, the Diocese allegedly contacted the Firebaugh Police Department. Msgr. Harrison was reportedly put on paid administrative leave due to an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor that occurred decades prior in Firebaugh, California. Since then, two other survivors have come forward alleging childhood sexual abuse by Msgr. Harrison. One of the survivors purportedly previously reported the sexual abuse by Msgr. Harrison in 1998, and again in 2002. The Diocese deemed the allegation unsubstantiated and Msgr. Harrison continued his priesthood. A survivor who has alleged sexual abuse against Msgr. Harrison is a former Catholic monk that referred to Msgr. Harrison as a mentor and felt compelled to come forward after hearing other allegations.

After decades of pressure, the vast majority of US bishops have posted on church websites the names of and often some details about proven, admitted, and credibly accused predatory clerics. Unfortunately, the Diocese of Fresno is one of sixteen Catholic Dioceses in the United States yet to publish a list of credibly accused clergy. Many consider this long-overdue step to be the bare minimum church officials should do to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.

Just over two years ago, Fresno Bishop Joseph V. Brennan pledged to release a list of credibly accused clerics but has yet to do so. These misleading and perilous actions by the Bishop have continued to keep innocent children at risk of horrific crimes.

LIVE STREAM: The press conference will be live-streamed via Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube, and in the News section of our website.

MEDIA NOTE: The press conference will be filmed at 1080p resolution with a broadcast camera. Video files will be available to press upon request. Message media@andersonadvocates.com for access.