AUBURN GRESHAM — A third man has accused St. Sabina leader Rev. Michael Pfleger of sexually abusing him when he was a teen more than 40 years ago.
The man is not filing a legal claim, but he will cooperate with the Archdiocese of Chicago’s investigation into Pfleger, according to a spokeswoman for Eugene Hollander, the attorney representing two other men who have accused Pfleger of sexually abusing them.
Pfleger, a popular but controversial leader, was asked to step aside from his ministry in January as the archdiocese announced it would be investigating a child sexual abuse allegation against the priest dating back more than 40 years. A second man, who is the brother of the first accuser, came forward later that month and said Pfleger had also sexually abused him.
Now, a third man has said Pfleger abused him decades ago.
The most recent alleged assault happened in the ’70s when the man, now in his late 50s, was 18 years old, according to Hollander. He said Pfleger sexually assaulted him in the priest’s bedroom at the St. Sabina rectory the summer he graduated from high school. The man also accused Pfleger of giving him marijuana and liquor beginning when he was 15 years old.
In an affidavit, the alleged victim said Pfleger would take him to jazz clubs for drinks when he was a teen, and they regularly smoked marijuana in Pfleger’s rectory bedroom, according to Hollander’s office. It was during one of those sessions that Pfleger allegedly made an unwanted advance, grabbing the man’s penis.
“It was not consensual. He thought I was sleeping at the time. I was stunned and was eventually able to push him off me. After that, I was done with Mike Pfleger,” the man wrote in the affidavit, according to Hollander’s office. “When I heard his supporters attacking the other victims and saying Father Mike could do never do this, I knew I had to come forward and tell the truth. Hopefully, my experience will add to their credibility and encourage other victims to come forward.”
The accuser will not be filing a lawsuit nor seek compensation, according to Hollander’s office.
“This is painful for him to talk about. 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 an emailed statement. “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 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago said, “We have received the affidavit and will process it as we do every such allegation.”
Pfleger has denied sexually assaulting the two brothers who accused him in January.
Last week, the Department of Children and Family Services said a report of child abuse against Pfleger had been ruled “unfounded,” but the agency said that does not mean an incident didn’t occur — only that investigators couldn’t find “credible evidence of child abuse or neglect” that rose “to the level required” by state law and department rules.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago said the state’s finding came because it was investigating if Pfleger posed a risk to current children. The finding did not relate to allegations made by the two brothers that Pfleger sexually abused them.
Earlier this week, St. Sabina Church leaders said they will no longer send the church’s $100,000-per-month offerings to the archdiocese, hoping that will force the organization to expedite its investigation into Pfleger.
The Police Department is also investigating the brothers’ allegations.
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