A second allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been received by the Chicago Archdiocese against the Rev. Michael Pfleger, officials confirmed Sunday evening.
According to an archdiocese spokesperson, the allegation comes from a sibling of the minor who came forward with abuse allegations earlier this year.
Pfleger was asked to step aside from his ministry at St. Sabina after the allegation was received by the Archdiocese’s Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review earlier this month.
Note: Watch press conferences from Saint Sabina and the accusers, both at 10 a.m. in the players below:
According to a letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich, the allegation stems from an incident that occurred more than 40 years ago.
“Father Pfleger has agreed to cooperate fully with my request and will live away from the parish while this matter is investigated,” Cupich said in a letter to parishioners.
The allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney, in accordance with church policy.
“The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward,” Cupich said.
The church asked parishioners and Chicago residents to remember that the claims of abuse “have not been proven as true or false,” and not to assume guilt or innocence in the case.
Pfleger’s counsel forcefully responded to the new accusations Sunday, calling the allegations “false” and accusing the brothers of trying to “shake down” Pfleger in the case.
In a letter sent to NBC 5, Pfleger’s attorneys said that one of the brothers involved in the case sent a handwritten letter to the priest in late 2020 asking for $20,000. The attorneys alleged that the man alluded to settlements made by the church in other abuse cases in his letter to Pfleger.
“Over the last 45 years, the brothers, who are from out of state, say they never told each other or anybody else about the alleged abuse until this month after they hired a lawyer,” the response from Pfleger’s lawyers read, in part. “The allegations by these two men are false. Unfortunately, these salacious allegations are being given publicity that is causing irreparable damage to Father Pfleger’s reputation.”
Pfleger, 70, has been the pastor of Saint Sabina Church in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood since 1981. He has become widely known for his activism against violence in the city, and has frequently been the subject of controversy, speaking out against the “Jerry Springer Show” and criticizing rap musicians who he says glorified violence in their music.