Newly disclosed letters and emails from the early 2000s detail allegations that Bakersfield priest Craig Harrison had sex with two high school students while serving as pastor of a church in Firebaugh.
In addition, an email from August 2004 alleged he would examine boys’ private parts every morning as a way of checking whether they had been using drugs.
The accusations surfaced as part of an unrelated investigation conducted in 2004 by a retired FBI agent in Merced. Summaries of his findings were contained in material provided to The Californian Thursday by Stephen Brady, a representative of Roman Catholic Faithful, an organization of church members including investigators and lawyers, whose self-professed goal is to rid the church of clerical corruption.
It was unclear whether the accusations outlined in the letters were among those that have come to light in the weeks since Harrison, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, was placed on paid leave April 25 over allegations of inappropriate contact with minors.
A spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, Teresa Dominguez, said by email she could not comment on the emails and letters because an investigation is in process.
Harrison’s lead attorney in Bakersfield, Kyle J. Humphrey, questioned the authenticity of the correspondence and said the allegations they contain are part of a concerted effort by a cabal set on destroying Harrison.
All that’s necessary to set up a claim against the church and destroy a priest, Humphrey said, “is take some information that was created at some point in time and say, ‘Oh well, if someone accused him, he must have done everything he was accused of.’”
Harrison, for his part, has denied allegations he has ever had inappropriate contact with minors.
Read more at Bakersfield.com