Rev. Michael Pfleger, an activist Chicago priest, now faces a second allegation of sexual abuse. This new allegation comes from the brother of the first survivor who came forward on January 5, 2021. Both allegations stem from alleged sexual abuse that occurred more than 40 years ago.
Pfleger is not the only high profile priest to be accused of sexual abuse recently. Father George Rutler, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York was accused of sexual abuse in December. Father Rutler has stepped aside from his duties as pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Manhattan after a security guard at the church alleged he sexually assaulted her in his office.
The criminal complaint, under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, accuses Father Rutler of watching pornography in the guard’s presence. The incident reportedly took place in Father Rutler’s office in the overnight hours of Nov. 4. The priest allegedly attacked the security guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, physically and sexually when she attempted to leave the room.
According to a report in The New York Times December 5, 2020, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that its investigation was “active and ongoing.”
Unlike the Rutler matter, Pfleger’s allegations date back to when he was a young priest. The men, who are in their 60s and now live in Texas, said at a news conference that Pfleger molested them dozens of times, starting in the 1970s. It allegedly began when they were in the choir at Precious Blood Church on the West Side and continued for years at the Mundelein Seminary as well as two other churches, including St. Sabina Church, where Pfleger has served as pastor since 1981. The older brother, an Air Force veteran and former Texas police officer, said he viewed Pfleger as a “father figure” since his father was absent and that Pfleger would often watch TV with him and give him sodas. The alleged abuse began when he was between 12 and 13 and stayed with Pfleger overnight at the Precious Blood’s rectory. The older brother said the abuse was a “slow methodical process” that started by Pfleger allegedly climbing into bed with the boy before making physical contact. This abuse happened “a couple dozen times” for at least five years, he said.
The younger brother also alleged he was sexually abused multiple times by Pfleger, starting when he was 13 and continued into his mid-20s.
Neither brother ever told anyone about the abuse, they said, including each other, until this month.
Pfleger has been active in social justice issues for decades that has caused consternation among the more conservative Catholic hierarchy.
These two recent reports of prominent priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors underscores the fact that the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is an ongoing problem and efforts to stem the tide of abuse have failed. The reaction of Pfleger’s attorneys don’t help matters. They accused the brothers of a shake down and have blasted the accusations as “false attacks . . . motivated by greed.”
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