A third man has now accused Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of the Saint Sabina parish in Chicago, of sexual abuse, according to an affidavit provided to CNN by an attorney for two other men who have also accused the priest.
Attorneys for Pfleger said he “definitively” denies the allegations.
In the affidavit, a 59-year-old man, whose name has been redacted, alleges Pfleger touched his genitals over his clothes when he was 18.
“I did not consent for Mike [Pfleger] to touch me in a sexual manner,” the man said in the affidavit.
The attorney, Eugene Hollander, said he gave the Archdiocese of Chicago the signed and notarized affidavit Tuesday.
“We have received the affidavit and will process it as we do every such allegation,” the archdiocese said in a statement. It offered no further comment.
Pfleger, a longtime activist on Chicago’s South Side, has gained a national reputation for speaking out on policing, gun violence, community inequality and other issues.
What the affidavit alleges
The man said he first met Pfleger in 1976 or 1977 and viewed him as a “mentor and big brother.” He alleges in the affidavit that he would smoke marijuana with him at the rectory at Saint Sabina and drink alcohol with him there and elsewhere despite being under legal drinking age.
One night in 1979, when the man was 18, he said he had smoked marijuana with Pfleger in Pfleger’s room in the rectory and pretended to fall asleep because he thought Pfleger had done “something inappropriate” another time he’d fallen asleep in his room, the affidavit alleges.
According to the affidavit, the man says Pfleger approached him as he pretended to sleep and called his name a couple of times.
“I did not move and then Mike grabbed my penis over my clothes. I did not consent for Mike to touch me in a sexual manner. I then pushed his hand away,” the man said in the affidavit.
He said in the affidavit that he would occasionally see Pfleger after the alleged incident, but no longer socialized with him.
Pfleger’s attorneys disputed the allegations.
“Father Pfleger definitively states that this alleged incident, which purportedly occurred when the man was 18 years old, did not happen. He never touched this man in any sexual or inappropriate way at any time,” attorneys James R. Figliulo and Michael Monico said in a statement.
They added that Pfleger remembers the man identified in “this false report.”
“During the late 1970s, the man’s mother was very active at St Sabina’s in the Women’s Club and the Church community. He knew the man as a teenager at St Sabina’s, but did not take him to Jazz clubs or give him alcohol or marijuana,” their statement said.
Two men previously accused Pfleger
In a press release accompanying the affidavit, Hollander said the accuser is not filing a lawsuit.
“I do not want to take legal action but when I heard his supporters attacking the other victims and saying Father Mike [Pfleger] could 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 man said in the press release.
In their statement, Pfleger’s attorneys questioned Hollander’s motives.
“Hollander has shamelessly used the media to smear the reputation of a truly good priest and advocate for his community in a sordid attempt to get some celebrity time on TV for him and his clients and some money from the Archdiocese,” Figliulo and Monico said.
Two men, brothers now in their 60s, previously accused Pfleger of sexual abuse, alleging it began in the early 1970s, when they were 12 or 13 years old. One of the brothers said he sought refuge at the church to escape from a difficult upbringing and the dangers of Chicago’s West Side.
When those allegations were made in January, Pfleger denied them through his attorneys. At that time, the archdiocese said he would remain removed from the ministry until civil and church investigations were complete.