Tag: Michael Pfleger

Michael Pleger sexual

Why Do Abuse Victims Come Forward Decades Later? Here’s One Answer

There are many answers to this seemingly simple question about why it takes decades for many sexual abuse victims to come forward to tell their truth. Today, we want to explain just one of them.

Just recently, we at Horowitz Law drew attention here to the two child sex abuse reports against a high-profile Illinois priest, Fr. Michael Pfleger.

Now, that cleric faces a third accuser.

Unlike the first two accusers, this new one involves what was then an 18 year old, not a child under the applicable state law.

And unlike the first two accusers, this new one isn’t seeking a nickel.

https://blockclubchicago.org/2021/03/03/father-pfleger-accused-of-sexual-abuse-by-3rd-man/

Listen to what prompted the third accuser to speak up now, some 40 years after Fr. Michael Pfleger reportedly gave him marijuana and liquor beginning when he was 15 years old.

Fr. Pfleger was suspended by Chicago archdiocesan officials in January. Butfor the last few weeks, his well-intentioned, loyal parishioners have been very outspoken about their belief that Fr. Pfleger is innocent.

In the wake of this, the priest’s third accuser told Chicago media: “When I heard Fr. Pfleger’s supporters attacking the other victims and saying Father Mike could do 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 accuser isn’t seeking compensation and he says will cooperate with the Archdiocese of Chicago’s investigation into Fr. Pfleger,

We at Horowitz Law know men and women who have done exactly this – broken years of silence and shared deep suffering – because they too want the abuse to stop and the wrongdoers to be exposed. They’ve reluctantly filed police reports, contacted prosecutors, called church staffers and even spoken publicly, because they feel it’s their duty, especially when other victims are being attacked.

It’s hard. It feels risky. But it’s the noble and brave thing to do. We are proud of every single person who has overcome their fears to help others.

There are a few lessons here for both church officials and church members. It’s in the self-interest of both to be careful when they

— claim that accusers are ‘greedy’ or vengeful’ and

— use hardball tactics, legal and otherwise, to try and foster a climate of fear.

These tactics can backfire. They can inspire rather than deter other victims. They can make witnesses and whistleblowers feel duty-bound to speak up.

It’s no coincidence, we suspect, that the third accuser came forward after lay leaders of Fr. Pfleger’s parish said they will no longer send the church’s $100,000-per-month offerings to the Archdiocese, hoping that will force the church officials to expedite its investigation into Pfleger.

Pressuring Catholic staffers to short-circuit an abuse report, we believe, is morally wrong. And again, it may well prompt others to break their silence because they’re angry or upset at such hard-ball tactics.

Catholic sexual abuse

Parishes Can Be Victimized Too

If you’re a bishop, what do you do with parishioners when their beloved priest is accused of child sexual abuse?

One option: Do virtually nothing.

Another option: Express compassion.

A third option: Give them information, context and guidance.

That’s the smartest and most caring choice.

Sadly, however, most Catholic officials opt for saying nothing or token expressions of sympathy. (A common one is “Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone touched by these allegations.”)

What do we mean by “information, context and guidance.”

—“Information” is easy. Tell the flock as much as you can without jeopardizing the privacy of the accuser. For example, “Fr. Bob allegedly molested a boy on a camping trip.” That way, other parents whose kids went camping with Fr. Bob are more apt to ask their children “Did Fr. Bob ever do anything that made you hurt or feel uncomfortable?”

—“Context” is a little bit harder, but just as crucial. By definition, a “beloved priest” is popular. And no one wants to believe they and their loved ones are or have been at risk of horrific abuse. So naturally, the accused predator’s congregants desperately hope and believe he’s innocent.

But a real leader would make sure the flock knows that fewer than two percent of abuse reports against priests are false. There’s a bunch of evidence proving this at BishopAccountability.org

https://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/data.htm#falseallegations

Wouldn’t you, as bishop, want to spare Catholics more pain by explaining that the likelihood of Fr. Bob being exonerated and returning to work is pretty low?

—“Guidance” means teaching parishioners how to act in the wake of the accusation. Let’s face it: to most church-goers, having their pastor charged, publicly or criminally, with such a heinous crime is highly unusual. They’re in uncharted waters. They need guidance from spiritual figures.

And they can either help or hurt others through their actions. Here’s a short, simple list of recommendations, from survivors themselves, on how to make a dreadful situation less dreadful.

https://www.snapnetwork.org/links_homepage/when_priest_accused.htm

The tragedy is that we at Horowitz Law have rarely seen church authorities, in any denomination, offer such guidance to wounded, confused congregants.

We bring this up now because of the case involving Fr. Michael Pfleger in Chicago. He’s been a popular community crusader, taking on drug dealers, violence, disrespectful depictions of women in the media and other causes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Pfleger

But he’s also been accused of child sexual abuse of two boys and sexual abuse of a then-18 year old. Thankfully, his superior Cardinal Blasé Cupich, has suspended Fr. Pfleger.

But sadly, Pfleger’s flock is aggressively rallying around him. By doing so, they’re making the investigation into the abuse reports tougher. And they’re very likely scaring other witnesses, victims and whistleblowers who might shed light on the situation into keeping quiet.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/investigations/ct-pfleger-abuse-new-accuser-20210303-mayzala3afhchkhhfifttzyeki-story.html

Let’s not, however, blame the parishioners entirely. Much of the fault here lies with Cupich. He has the experience, resources, education and, in fact, the duty to teach his flock how they can privately express support for their ousted pastor while at the same time protecting the privacy of accusers.

Cupich hasn’t done so, however. And virtually none of his clerical colleagues have either.

He’s acting selfishly, doing and saying little, when he should be acting responsibly, doing and saying lots to make sure a tough situation isn’t made tougher for all.