CHICAGO (CBS) — Two brothers who came forward revealing what they say was years of sexual abuse at the hands of Father Michael Pfleger are now being accused of lying about Pfleger for financial gain.
But they say their main motivation for coming forward is not money but telling the truth.READ MORE: Girl, 17, Among 2 Shot In Back Of The Yards
The brothers first told their stunning stories exclusively to CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov.
“My first time telling someone is when I called my attorney,” said the younger brother. “That was New Year’s Day.”
The 61-year-old said that’s when he shared a troubling secret he carried for more than 40 years — that Father Michael Pfleger sexually abused him.
“I would question myself. ‘Is this okay?’ But still it was the trust in a man with a collar,” he said.
He is not sharing his identity to protect family still in Chicago from any backlash. He said the abuse began when he was a 13-year choir boy and Pfleger a seminarian at Precious Blood Church on Chicago’s West Side in the 1970’s.
Kozlov: “So you thought this Father Mike was a great guy?”
Younger Brother: “Yes, that’s what I thought.”
Kozlov: “He earned your trust?”
Younger Brother: “Yes he did.”
But he claims Father Pfleger then used that trust to begin sexually abusing him at age 13 – the first time as Pfleger was driving him home.
“Now that I think about it the look was: ‘You know not to tell anyone. You know not to say anyone,’” he said. “And then that’s when he unzipped my pants.”
But he said the abuse did not stop there.
Attorney Gene Hollander filed his abuse claim with the Chicago Archdiocese on Jan. 4. Pfleger was removed from St. Sabina the next day. Then he told his older brother, an Air Force veteran and former police officer, who revealed Pfleger had abused him too.
He claims the abuse also went on for years.
The older brother said it began at age 12, often occurring in Pfleger’s room at the rectory when he would stay overnight.
“I was in bed, He crawled into the same bed. This is basically the routine – coming into the same bed,” the older brother said, “and it started with fondling.”READ MORE: Police Investigate Loop Carjacking
“I had put this in a closet and hoped that it would stay there. And I didn’t reach out to my brother,” the older added tearfully. “He came to me, and he told me his story. And I’m in this mess again.”
Both brothers first shared their stories with Kozlov, exclusively revealing what they claim is Pfleger’s dark side. Now they’re speaking to others, too.
“This is his dark side. I know of his good side as well. But I’m speaking today of his dark side,” said the older brother.
“I’m not here because I want to be,” the older brother added during a news conference Monday. “I’m here because this is the right thing to do.”
Hollander filed the older brother’s claim with the Archdiocese Friday.
Kozlov asked Hollander if he believes Pfleger should be removed from active ministry.
“If these allegations are deemed to be credible — I believe my clients — but if they are deemed to be credible – absolutely,” he said.
Pfleger’s attorneys say the brothers are lying. Meanwhile, Pfleger’s supporters defended him Monday.
“Father Pfleger has been consistent,” one supporter said, “and his character and reputation has never been questioned.”
“We’re going to pray for those accusing him, because I can tell you right now, they need an awful lot of prayer,” another said.
Pfleger’s attorneys point to a letter the younger brother sent Pflelger asking for $20,000. The younger brother said he thought he’d use payment as an admission of guilt.
Younger Brother in Sunday report: “And the $20,000 was to have to see if he would send it, because to me, then, that would be an admission of guilt.”
Kozlov: “Some, of course, would say that’s blackmail or extortion potentially too.”
Younger Brother: “But if it was blackmail or extortion, when I was in my addiction, that was the time to blackmail someone. That was the time to extort, because that’s when I really needed money.”
The older brother added Monday: “I don’t need his money. I don’t need anybody’s money. I want to keep focus on the victim. The victim is me. The victim is my brother.”
He said further: “What infuriated me is a lawyer saying anything about me and not knowing what happened. I was there, Mike was there. We were the only two in the room. His lawyer can say anything he wants.”
CBS 2 reached out to Pfleger’s attorneys again Monday requesting an interview. They did not respond to that, but they are calling this a shakedown. The Archdiocese says the investigation is continuing.MORE NEWS: Chicago Police Restrict Time Off For Officers; Unclear If Order Is Related To Battle Between City Hall, FOP Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
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