St. Sabina Parishioners Welcome Reverend Michael Pfleger’s Return After Being Cleared of Abuse Allegations – NBC Chicago

The popular but also controversial Reverend Michael Pfleger celebrated his first mass upon his return to Chicago’s Saint Sabina Church on Sunday after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations.

Parishioners in attendance clapped and applauded as Pfleger, the church’s longtime senior pastor, led the mass.

“It’s great to be back. It’s a painful time to have been isolated,” he said. “I think what hurts the real victims aren’t the real victims, you know, the people who create accusations that don’t are not true.”

An Independent Review Board for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago concluded “there is no reason to suspect” that Pfleger was guilty of the allegations against him.

The church has stood by Father Pfleger since the allegations surfaced months ago.

“We knew he was innocent, we don’t care why,” stalwart Brenda Smith said.

“She is a wonderful person and I never had any doubts in my mind,” commented another devotee, Leslie Archer Sr.

“I apologize for the pain they had to go through because of me,” Pfleger said.

In October, an individual filed a lawsuit with the Archdiocese of Chicago alleging that Pfleger sexually assaulted him when he was a minor in the late 1980s. The accuser’s attorney, Eugene Hollander, has said his client was a member of the Soul Children of Chicago choir which rehearsed weekly at Saint Sabina Parish.

Hollander spoke in response to the review board’s decision.

“The RIB ruling sends a very profound chilling effect for victims of childhood sexual abuse, make it worth coming forward,” he said.

Hollander told NBC 5 that a total of three men have filed claims with the archdiocese and a fourth man has signed an affidavit stating that he was also sexually abused by Pfleger.

“Really take a closer look at these allegations,” the lawyer said.

Pfleger said that since the allegations surfaced, he has been facing threats.

“If you’ve seen the hate mail I get every week, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

But in the end, the pastor is back and fulfilling his duties as the head of the church.

“When you get attacked, whether it’s me, whether it’s you, or whatever, fight,” Father Pfleger said.

Hollander’s spokesperson said his clients are now considering their legal options, but no decision has yet been made.

NBC Chicago

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