FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Despite “credible” allegations of sexual abuse against a central California priest, prosecutors said Friday that they are unable to file charges against him because the statute of limitations has expired.
Monsignor Craig Harrison was placed on administrative leave from the Diocese of Fresno last April after an alleged victim, now an adult, claimed the priest molested him when he was a teenage altar boy.
“While the allegations made against Monsignor Harrison appear credible to investigators, they reportedly occurred in the 1990’s. These allegations were not reported to law enforcement until April of 2019,” the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office said in November that it wouldn’t file charges against Harrison for the same reason, the Modesto Bee reported.
“Delayed reporting is not uncommon in sexual assault cases, but it can limit the ability to criminally charge and prosecute offenders,” the Fresno County DA's statement said.
The diocese wasn’t immediately able to comment late Friday on Harrison’s current status.
A different statute of limitations may apply for civil actions. Alleged victims of sexual abuse are now able to sue the diocese under the state’s new Child Victims Act.
The Diocese of Fresno was served with two such lawsuits in January, according to the Bee.