FRESNO, Calif. (ChurchMililtant.com) - The finding of "credible" homosexual abuse allegations against California priest Msgr. Craig Harrison by local law enforcement not only discredits the priest's defamation suit against a whistleblower, says an attorney, it also opens the priest up to a counter lawsuit.
According to attorney Paul Jonna, Friday's statement by the Fresno County district attorney (D.A.) regarding the existence of credible allegations against Harrison undermines the priest's defamation lawsuit against Jonna's client, Stephen Brady, and Brady's organization, Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF).
On Tuesday Jonna told media, "Because the Fresno DA has now found 'credible' allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Harrison, there is no way he can maintain a defamation case against Brady and RCF."
On Thursday, Jonna spoke to Church Militant about multiple investigations of Harrison by law enforcement confirming that "none of the investigations exonerated Craig Harrison." He said the absence of charges was owing to the statute of limitations protecting Harrison and not from a lack of credible allegations against him.
"For example," said Jonna, "although the Fresno District Attorney's press release was more direct, the Merced District Attorney's earlier press release appears similar. The Merced DA stated that a criminal prosecution would not be pursued because of the statute of limitations."
Jonna then cited the Merced DA's statement as follows: "Based upon the factual circumstances of this case, the filing of charge is prohibited by the applicable statute of limitations; therefore no charges will be issued."
Harrison is currently under investigation by his Fresno diocese and was investigated by multiple police departments for various allegations of corruption including homosexual abuse. He claims Brady defamed him in May at a press conference in Bakersfield. Brady only reported facts that were already public without taking a stance, says Jonna.
"Mr. Brady reported neutrally on allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Harrison — expressly stating that he did not know at the time if the allegations were true, and that his investigation would either prove Harrison's guilt or innocence, Jonna commented.
He added, "Indeed, the sexual abuse allegations that Mr. Brady addressed at the press conference were made in the same time period and location as the allegations the Fresno DA found 'credible'."
Referencing Harrison's current defamation suit against Brady, Jonna stated, "In light of both of these press releases, we expect we will be able to fully vindicate Stephen Brady in court."
Brady told Church Militant on Thursday that he trusts in God and in Jonna's ability to bring out the truth of the matter.
While an unjust lawsuit like this is always unsettling, I have complete confidence in Paul Jonna and his law firm but most importantly I trust in the good Lord and the Blessed Mother for their help. It's that mustard seed of faith that gets me through these trying times like this. I'm confident the truth will come out.
In his remarks to media on Tuesday, Jonna said the DA's statement on Friday proves Harrison's case was malicious.
In light of the finding by the Fresno County District Attorney's Office that the homosexual abuse allegations against Msgr. Craig Harrison are "credible," it is abundantly clear that Harrison's civil lawsuit against Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc. ("RCF") and Stephen Brady is not only frivolous, but malicious and brought in bad faith.
Brady's attorney asserted that Harrison is using the lawsuit to muzzle Brady and other reporters like him.
"We believe that Harrison's civil lawsuit is an attack on the First Amendment and citizen reporting," said Jonna, "and that it is being used for the improper purpose of attempting to silence and intimidate reporters and even victims."
He noted that Harrison's case is shown to be groundless and he's now open to being sued in return if he presses the defamation suit against Brady.
"Therefore, if Harrison refuses to dismiss his baseless civil lawsuit against Brady and RCF, then they will sue Harrison for malicious prosecution after they defeat his claims and seek their attorneys' fees as well as punitive damages," warned Jonna.