Monsignor Craig Harrison is suing Fresno Diocese for defamation, a week after prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against him because the statute of limitations had run out.
The lawsuit names as defendants Teresa Dominguez, the diocesan chancellor, and Fresno Diocese.
Harrison was placed on administrative leave in late April 2019 when an adult male accused him of “inappropriately touching” him when he was a teenage altar boy thirty years ago.
Dominguez said that “other victims” had accused Harrison of similar acts and told one of the complainants she believed him and would support him.
The lawsuit describes Dominguez’s comments as “false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous,” saying that Harrison suffered “anxiety, shame, humiliation and mortification.”
Harrison is seeking punitive damages for medical costs, damage to his reputation and impairment of earning capacity.
The prosecutor’s office said investigators found the sexual abuse allegations “credible.” The diocese has not said whether Harrison remains on leave.
Monsignor Harrison's attorney forgot to explain to his client how the standards for proof are dramatically lower in civil trials. The diocese's defense is to show the allegations are credible and doing so would be a disaster for M. Harrison. Essentially, it would be a "sex abuse trial" without the criminal component.