More than 100 black men late Wednesday, November 2nd, stood in support of Saint Sabina’s Father Michael L. Pfleger who have been asked to step away from his ministry due to 40-year-old allegations of sexual misconduct by a man claiming it happened during the Walt Whitman rehearsals.
In praying before the press conference, Rev. Lamar Johnson said, “We stand, and we speak up for him. We are his arms. We are an extension of his leadership and his vision. We are the carriers of the vision you have given him.
“So, wherever he is right now, we pray that you strengthen his heart, strengthen his faith, strengthen his courage to let him know that trouble won’t last always…,” Rev. Johnson said.
Cory Williams, Father Pfleger’s executive assistant, said, “We are advocating for him to return to Saint Sabina swiftly. It is important that we acknowledge the accusation made against him, and we don’t want to ignore the process, but the process is flawed. In our courts of law, individuals are accused of wrongdoing and presumed innocent, and their guilt has to be proven through investigations and court proceedings.
“In this instance, the person is presumed to be guilty and have to prove their innocence. That is an incorrect way,” Williams stated. Making it clear, he added, “We are not afraid of this investigation.
“Father Pfleger just went through a thorough investigation that lasted over five months a little over a year ago,” Williams pointed out. “That investigation covered the same time period that this accusation was made. So, most of the groundwork should have been laid for the investigation and all that should be left is to verify the veracity of the person who has come forward at this time. In fact, that should shorten the process.
“Unfortunately, it is happening at a time that is not the best time,” Williams said because the investigation is happening around a time that negatively affects non-profits because “the timeframe between Thanksgiving and New Year is crucial to many programs and job surviving. That is the fair scenario we find ourselves in right now.
“At this point, we have already lost over $40,000 that would have been donated for our coat giveaway, and it was made clear through that funding source that the reason we were not getting it was because Pastor Pfleger was not here,” Williams explained.
He said the funds were not withheld because of the accusations but rather Pfleger’s absence. “They trust him for what he has done for over 40 years and that is to serve the community.”
Understanding the investigation’s process, Williams said, “We are not asking the archdiocese to skip steps, but we are asking them to complete this investigation as quickly as possible.
“Once the investigation is done, the review board makes its decision rather quickly versus waiting for over a month until they meet again but have a meeting once the investigation is closed.”
Williams asked the archdiocese to “move swiftly, diligently, but do it correctly at the same time.”
Joseph Saunders, a youth leader, said, “The thing that I want most is for his name to never be tarnished. His legacy and his work of love over 40 plus year in this community” speaks for itself. “I don’t want to see his name tarnished in anyway.”
“These false accusations once again hurt us.” Saunders said all Father Pfleger wants to do is to serve people. “Father Pfleger is a man of love, of justice. He’s a man of peace. He’s a warrior…. Father Mike, we love you. Justice for Father Mike.”
A member of the church since 1990, Phil Hunter, one of Father Pfleger’s armorbearer, said he, his wife and children were part of the Saint Sabina Safe Home program ministry created to allow children to be kept together to either be adopted or reunited with their biological family.
Hunter, who raised his children in the church, said that program was successful because of Father Pfleger. “Not one time did my family, my children or foster children had any concerns or felt uncomfortable around Pastor Pfleger or anything in his character that would suggest he is capable of these charges.”
“Father Pfleger, we stand with you. We support you, and we love you,” Hunter said.