Two men who have accused the Rev. Michael Pfleger of sexually abusing them in the 1970s spoke out for the first time on Monday, saying that the alleged abuse “destroyed” their lives.
The brothers say they’ve never spoken to each other about the allegations until now. Both now live in Texas, but 45 years ago they say they met Pfleger when he was a seminarian.
“I can describe it in terms of grooming. I can describe it as rewarding me with different types of things,” the older brother said in a press conference Monday.
Pfleger was asked to step aside from his ministry at St. Sabina earlier this month after one of the brothers accused him of sexual abuse. The other brother’s allegation was publicized on Sunday.
Pfleger has denied all allegations of abuse, saying that the allegations are “being made for money” in a statement issued by his lawyers on Sunday.
During the Monday press conference, the brothers discussed the accusations of abuse, which they said started at the then-Precious Blood Parish on Chicago’s West Side in the early 1970’s, when Pfleger was a seminarian.
“It destroyed my life,” the younger brother said.
“There were times when I just pretended to be asleep. I didn’t want to engage,” the older brother said. “I can tell you that I just wanted to survive it.”
The brothers say the sexual abuse continued at St. Sabina, as well as at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview, where Cardinal Wilton Gregory was assigned in the 1970s.
The younger brother says seeing Gregory on television brought back memories of Pfleger. He is a recovering drug addict, and says he has been clean for 12 years. The older brother is a retired Air Force sergeant and police officer, according to lawyers for the brothers.
Pfleger’s lawyers have rejected the allegations as “false,” saying that the “salacious allegations” are doing harm to Pfleger’s reputation.
“It is so very disheartening to witness such false attacks on Father Pfleger, which are motivated by greed,” the lawyers said. “Father Pfleger is a good and decent priest and does not deserve to have his reputation destroyed by such false allegations.”
The brothers fired back at Pfleger and his legal team on Monday.
“This happened to me, whether you believe it or not,” the older brother said. “That’s on you. That’s not on me.”
Pfleger’s lawyers also allege that the younger brother sent a handwritten letter to the priest in Dec. 2020, asking for a “one-time payment” of $20,000.
“They (the Chicago Archdiocese) have made settlements that have changed men’s lives forever,” Pfleger’s lawyers quoted the letter as saying.
The younger brother in the case acknowledged writing the letter, but said that his desire wasn’t to blackmail Pfleger, but rather to get him to admit guilt in the case.
“I asked for money because I had a plan,” he said. “If he sent me some money, that was an admission of guilt.”
Eugene Hollander, one of the lawyers representing the brothers, believes that other allegations will surface.
The Chicago Archdiocese is continuing to investigate the allegations, and reported them to state authorities, per church policy.