Fr. Michael Pfleger accused of sexually abusing child at Saint Sabina church decades ago: lawyer

Pfleger agrees to step away during investigation, calling the allegations 'unfounded,' saying he is 'completely innocent.'

ByTre Ward and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, October 15, 2022
Father Pfleger accused of sexually abusing child decades ago: lawyer
A man's lawyer said Michael Pfleger sexually abused him as a child. The Archdiocese of Chicago list of accused priests nearly doubled recently.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new person is accusing Saint Sabina's Father Michael Pfleger of sexual abuse.

Chicago attorney Eugene Hollander said his client, a man in his late 40s, has filed a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Fr. Pfleger became a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1975. And in 1981, he became the pastor of St. Sabina.

In a statement released Saturday, Cardinal Blasé Cupich said Fr. Pfleger has been asked to step aside from ministry while an investigation is underway, and Pfleger agreed.

The man claims the abuse happened when he was a member of the Soul Children of Chicago choir in the 1980s.

In the claim, the man said he was sexually abused by Pfleger on two separate occasions in the parish rectory.

RELATED: Archdiocese of Chicago adds dozens of new names to list of priests, clergy accused of sex abuse

Hollander said the man is not speaking publicly about the investigation at this time.

He is the third man to file a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago accusing Father Pfleger of sexual abuse.

In January 2021, two brothers filed a claim accusing Pfleger of sexual abuse. Months later, another man submitted an affidavit alleging Pfleger touched him sexually and gave him drugs and liquor in the 1970s, but never officially filed a claim, according to officials. At the time, the three men were also represented by Hollander.

Pfleger returned to St. Sabina in June 2021 after a five-month investigation by the Archdiocese and DCFS based on allegations from two brothers. Those allegations were determined to be unfounded.

RELATED: Saint Sabina's Father Michael Pfleger accused by third man of sexual abuse

"Let me clear - I am completely innocent of this accusation," said Pfleger in a statement released Saturday. "While I am confident that the new allegation will also be determined to be unfounded, this process is so unfair and painful to me and the community I serve."

Cardinal Blase Cupich sent a letter to the members of Saint Sabina informing them of the allegations against Pfleger.

Cardinal Cupich also said the person making the allegation has been offered the services of the archdiocese's Victim Assistance Ministry.

Church services continued Saturday night, as concerns weigh heavily on the St. Sabina community.

"We've been down this road, last year, and now we're back doing this again," said Pam Bosley, a support of Fr. Pfleger

St. Sabina's pastor, Father Thulani Magwaza will serve as administrator when he returns from his visit with family in early November, Cupich wrote. Until then, Father David Jones will serve as a temporary administrator.

RELATED: Father Michael Pfleger opens up about depression, suicidal thoughts during abuse investigation

"The welfare of the children entrusted to our care remains our priority. The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward," Cupich wrote.

Andrew M. Stroth represents The Soul Children of Chicago and their longtime director Dr. Walter Whitman.

"On behalf of Dr. Whitman and The Soul Children, we denounce these recent allegations. When The Soul Children rehearse at St. Sabina or other locations, we always have chaperones. We always have parent attendance," said Stroth.

Father Pfleger's Full Statement:

Full letter from the Archdiocese of Chicago to St. Sabina Parish