The lawyer for two brothers who are accusing a nationally known activist Chicago priest of abuse decades ago says the men just want the truth.
Their attorney Eugene Hollander held a news conference Monday with the alleged victims. They did not want to be identified.
“So what my clients want, among other things, is they want a father (Rev. Michael)Pfleger to tell the truth. Admit what happened,” Hollander said.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger had been asked to step aside at St. Sabina Church due to the allegations from more than 40 years ago.
He has won wide praise for turning a sleepy and struggling parish into one of the most thriving in the nation’s third-largest city. Over the years he has garnered headlines for his activism and protests. He has been arrested while protesting at stores that were selling drug paraphernalia and for smearing red paint on billboards advertising cigarettes in his neighbourhood.
The alleged victims’ attorney, Eugene Hollander, says they have not ruled out filing a lawsuit if they can’t come to an agreement with the archdiocese.
“I’ve represented dozens of sexual abuse victims, you know, mainly clergy, clergy, sex abuse victims, but my clients have gone through absolute hell. They deserve to be compensated for what they’ve gone through,” he said.
The younger brother did say he asked for $20,000 from Pfleger in a December letter in which he confronted him about the abuse. But he denied it had to do anything with extortion.
Supporters of Pfleger, like Kimberly Lymone an associate minister at St. Sabina, disagreed.
“Their allegations were also proceeded by a handwritten letter mailed to Father Pfleger that requested a $20-thousand payment,” she said. “While this may or may not be illegal, this request certainly seems like extortion.”
Pfleger was ordained in 1975 and was assigned to St. Sabina Church that same year. Six years later, according to a biography on the church’s website, he became a pastor — the youngest full-time pastor in the archdiocese at the time.
Pfleger, who counts the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a hero and quotes him on his phone voicemail, has twice been a keynote speaker for the annual service commemorating King at the civil rights leader’s former church in Atlanta. At the request of King’s family, he was one of the speakers at the 2006 funeral of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, according to the website.
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