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Third man accuses Pfleger of sexual abuse

In a sworn statement, the man, now in his late 50s, said he was 18 when the Rev. Michael Pfleger molested him in the St. Sabina rectory.

Rev. Michael Pfleger has been removed from St. Sabina while an investigation is conducted of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor from 40 years ago.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger has been temporarily removed from ministry at St. Sabina church while the Archdiocese investigation allegations of decades-old sexual abuse.
Sun-Times file

A third man now claims the Rev. Michael Pfleger sexually abused him decades ago.

In a sworn statement, the 59-year-old man said he was 18 when Pfleger molested him in the St. Sabina rectory.

He decided to come forward to bolster the claims of two brothers who accused Pfleger in January of abusing them more than 40 years ago when they were minors — allegations that were met with disbelief by members of St. Sabina Church, where Pfleger has long served as pastor.

Eugene Hollander, an attorney who represents the brothers, said the latest accuser reached out to him through an intermediary to share his story.

Unlike the brothers, the latest accuser has not filed a claim with the archdiocese seeking financial compensation for the alleged abuse, Hollander said.

Hollander said he delivered the man’s affidavit Tuesday to the Archdiocese of Chicago, which is investigating the abuse claims.

An archdiocese spokeswoman would not comment Wednesday beyond saying, “We have received the affidavit and will process it as we do every such allegation.”

Pfleger, who previously spoke out against the brothers’ accusations on social media, said through his attorneys Wednesday the latest allegations were also untrue.

Pfleger “definitively states” the alleged abuse “did not happen,” said his attorneys, Michael Monico and James Figliulo.

“He never touched this man in any sexual or inappropriate way at any time,” they said in an emailed statement.

The man behind the latest accusation has lived in the South for many years and works as a truck driver.

Hollander said he attended St. Sabina grammar school and graduated in the mid-1970s. He then attended De La Salle Institute before graduating from Quigley South High School, which has since closed.

“I viewed Mike as a mentor and a big brother,” the man said in the sworn statement.

The two met in 1976 or 1977, he said. The man said he worked at a church summer youth program at St. Sabina after graduating from eighth grade and continued working with the program through high school.

The man said Pfleger took him to jazz clubs with other adults. He said though he was underage, he “frequently drank alcohol with [Pfleger] at these jazz clubs, in his room at the rectory at St. Sabina and elsewhere.”

The man said that in the summer of 1979 he fell asleep after smoking marijuana with Pfleger in his room at the rectory.

“I woke up and had a feeling that Mike did something that was inappropriate, but I did not witness anything,” he said in the statement.

Two weeks later, the man said he again smoked marijuana in Pfleger’s room and this time pretended to fall asleep.

“Mike came up to me and called my name a couple of times to see if I was asleep. I did not move and then Mike grabbed my penis over my clothes. I did not consent for Mike to touch me in such a sexual manner. I then pushed his hand away,” he said in the statement.

The man said he ended his relationship with Pfleger after that, and though he occasionally saw Pfleger while working the summer youth program, the two no longer socialized.

The man said he later moved away from Chicago and returned in his 20s and saw Pfleger at St. Sabina.

“I expected to get an apology from Mike for sexually assaulting me, but he never apologized,” he said in the statement.

News coverage in January of the brothers’ sex abuse accusations against Pfleger prompted a former classmate to urge the latest accuser to come forward.

Hollander said the latest accuser was acquainted with the older brother during their time at St. Sabina, but he hasn’t spoken to either of the brothers in more than 40 years.

“This man is not filing a lawsuit, and he is not looking for money. ... However, he came forward because he wants the Archdiocese to know what kind of priest Father Pfleger really is so it can take appropriate action and remove him from St. Sabina,” Hollander said in a news release Wednesday. “He wants to support the victims who have come forward and the many who have not because of fear of retribution from Father Pfleger and his supporters.”

Pfleger, 71, has been temporarily removed from his ministry.

The St. Sabina community has demanded Pfleger be returned to the parish. On Sunday, the parish said it will withhold its monthly assessment to the archdiocese until Pfleger is allowed to return.