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Activist Chicago priest Michael Pfleger facing multiple sexual abuse allegations

At least three men have come forward to say they were victims of the popular clergyman.
Activist Catholic Priest Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks before anti gun violence march on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago on Dec. 31, 2020.
Activist Catholic Priest Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks before anti gun violence march on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago on Dec. 31, 2020.Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP via Getty Images file

At least three men are accusing Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent Chicago priest who gained a national profile for his progressive social activism, of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers.

A 59-year-old, out-of-state truck driver who lived in Chicago as a teenager alleges in an affidavit to church officials that Pfleger, 71, once grabbed his crotch over his clothes in the priest’s bedroom at St. Sabina Church. The affidavit was released on Wednesday by attorney Eugene Hollander, who is also representing two brothers accusing Pfleger of misconduct.

The truck driver said his alleged encounter with Pfleger happened in the summer of 1979 when he was 18.

The accuser said he and Pfleger regularly drank alcohol, went to jazz clubs even through he was underage and smoked marijuana together before the alleged incident in the priest's room.

"We smoked marijuana again and I pretended to be asleep. Mike came up to me and called my name a couple of times to see if I was asleep," the man said in his affidavit. "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."

Pfleger's attorneys, Michael Monico and James Figliulo, issued a joint statement on Wednesday denying this latest allegation.

"Father Pfleger definitively states that this alleged incident, which purportedly occurred when the man was 18 years old, did not happen," according to the lawyers. "He never touched this man in any sexual or inappropriate way at any time." The lawyers also denied Pfleger ever took him to clubs or smoked marijuana with him.

In a statement on Wednesday to NBC Chicago, the Archdiocese of Chicago said, "We have received the affidavit and will process it as we do every such allegation.”

In January, two brothers who are in their 60s claimed that Pfleger abused them in the 1970s when he was a seminarian in Chicago and they were in a church choir.

Monico and Figliulo have also rejected those claims, saying "these allegations are false.”

The archdiocese is investigating Pfleger over the brothers' claims. The 59-year-old truck driver came forward after the brothers made their claims, according to Hollander.

"He is not seeking any compensation, he just wants the truth to come out," Hollander told NBC News on Wednesday.

Pfleger has long been outspoken against racism, violence and other social inequities in Chicago. The archdiocese has asked him to step aside from his ministry while it investigates the claims.