A popular Catholic monsignor in Bakersfield is on paid administrative leave following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor in Firebaugh.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno announced the suspension of Msgr. Craig Harrison in a news release Thursday.
Alleged Abuse Occurred in 2003
The diocese said it received the sexual misconduct allegation April 12 and contacted the Firebaugh Police Department three days later. The diocese says it, too, is investigating the matter.
ABC23 News in Bakersfield reports that, according to Firebaugh police, the alleged victim was 14-to-15-years-old at the time, and they believe the alleged abuse happened in 2003. The allegations involve inappropriate touching.
In a Facebook post, Harrison said he looked forward to his “good name being cleared.”
Second Accuser Comes Forward
Harrison, who became a priest in 1987, served as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Firebaugh earlier in his career. He also was the pastor at three churches in Merced.
ABC30 in Fresno reported that another accuser came forward alleging misconduct when Harrison worked in Merced.
Harrison is Chaplain for Law Enforcement Agencies
According to the Bakersfield Californian, Harrison is a chaplain for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and Bakersfield Police Department. He is a foster care advocate and the father of seven adopted children. In 2010, he received the Bishops Award for Catholic Charities.
“The diocese provided names of possible victims and witnesses and we have been contacting the possible victims and witnesses and we’re following up on every lead,” said Firebaugh Police Chief Sal Raygoza.
The Diocese of Fresno asks that anyone with information relevant to this case contact officer Ricardo Monay of the Firebaugh Police Department at 559 659-3051.