At least three men accuse Reverend Michael Pfleger, a prominent Chicago priest who gained a national profile for his progressive social activism, of sexual misconduct as a teenager.
A 59-year-old 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 in St. Sabina’s Church. The affidavit was released on Wednesday by attorney Eugene Hollander, who also represents two brothers accusing Pfleger of misconduct.
The truck driver said his alleged meeting with Pfleger took place in the summer of 1979 when he was 18.
The accuser said he and Pfleger regularly drank alcohol, went to jazz clubs even though he was a minor, and smoked marijuana together before the alleged incident in the priest’s bedroom.
“We smoked marijuana again and I pretended to be asleep. Mike came up to me and called me several times to see if I was asleep, ”the man said in his affidavit. “I didn’t move and then Mike grabbed my penis over my clothes. I didn’t consent to Mike touching me sexually, so I pushed his hand away.”
Pfleger’s attorneys Michael Monico and James Figliulo released a joint statement on Wednesday denying the latest allegation.
“Father Pfleger definitely declares that this alleged incident, which allegedly took place when the man was 18, did not happen,” according to lawyers. “He never touched this man in a sexual or inappropriate way at any time.” Lawyers also denied that Pfleger ever took him to clubs or smoked marijuana with him.
In a statement Wednesday to NBC Chicago, the Archdiocese of Chicago said, “We have received the affidavit and will treat it as we do for each of these allegations.”
In January, two brothers in their 60s claimed Pfleger mistreated them in the 1970s while he was a seminarian in Chicago and they were part of a church choir.
Monico and Figliulo also rejected these claims, saying “these claims are false.”
The Archdiocese is investigating Pfleger on the claims of the brothers. The 59-year-old truck driver came forward after the brothers made their complaints, according to Hollander.
“He’s not asking for any compensation, he just wants the truth out,” Hollander told NBC News on Wednesday.
Pfleger has long been openly against racism, violence, and other social inequalities in Chicago. The archdiocese asked him to step down from his ministry while he investigated the allegations.