Charges are “bogus,” say attorneys
By Chinta Strausberg
Through his lawyers, Father Michael Pfleger on Tuesday, March 30, denounced a “lie detector” test allegedly taken by two Texas brothers that was initiated by their attorney, Eugene Hollander, to prove they were telling the truth about Pfleger allegedly sexually abusing them more than 45 years ago.
The unnamed and faceless 60- and 63-year-old brothers, who spoke exclusively to NBC 5, said they chose to take the lie detector test because of rebuttals to their claims of sex abuse by members of Saint Sabina parish.
“We can’t even get our own community to believe,” the older brother told NBC 5.
After the younger brother initially filed the complaint with the Archdiocese, his older brother made a similar claim.
Recently Pfleger broke his silence, saying, “I am innocent” of the allegations.
The brothers’ attorney, Hollander, several weeks ago told the Crusader he will not allow his clients to talk to the police or DCFS or the Chicago police, but only the Archdiocese.
While Hollander claimed that the brothers “went through hell,” Pfleger’s lawyers, James R. Figliulo, Michael D. Monico and Ryan W. Mitsos, issued a statement calling Hollander’s tactics “a desperate effort to support his clients’ uncorroborated claims” and accused the lawyer of allegedly putting his clients up to taking the ‘so-called lie detector’ test.
Referring to Hollander, Pfleger said, “He is now using the alleged results of these tests to get more publicity for his money-seeking clients. They have no evidence to support their bogus claims.”
“Their stories don’t make sense. Their allegations are contradicted by everyone who knew the accusers at the time of the alleged incidents including all of their former friends,” wrote Pfleger’s lawyers.
“This shakedown first started with a blackmail letter from one of the accusers seeking a ‘one-time payment of $20,000.’ When that didn’t work, he hired Mr. Hollander as his lawyer in an effort to get him more money.
“It is worth noting that polygraph exams are notoriously unreliable, particularly when they are used in this manner,” Pfleger’s lawyers said, pointing to a 60 Minutes story that ran a few years ago “showing how the results of polygraph exams are unreliable and very easily manipulated.”
“There are good reasons why so-called ‘lie detector’ results are generally not admissible as evidence in court,” Pfleger wrote. “Perhaps chief among these reasons is that they are often wrong.”
Pfleger’s lawyers said more often “when you are dealing with conmen, or individuals with a documented history of lying, thieving and repeated problems with the law and their employment, polygraph results are particularly suspect.”
Additionally, Pfleger’s lawyers commented, “Father Pfleger’s accusers have misled the press and continue to do so. They hide their identity while pandering their stories on television conveniently ignoring their sordid histories of misconduct and dishonesty.”
The attorneys representing Pfleger accused the plaintiffs of finding a polygraph examiner “who, we understand, in 2019, reportedly claimed that in a polygraph exam a person was telling the truth. Later, however, that person privately admitted that he lied during that very same polygraph examination.”
Saying, “These unscrupulous activities have become the norm for Mr. Hollander and his clients,” Pfleger’s lawyers stated, “Their latest efforts are merely the next step
in this old-fashioned shakedown. What gimmick will Mr. Hollander and his money-seeking clients use next?”
“What we know is this: The accusers’ 45-year-old allegations are not corroborated by anyone or anything other than their own statements. The people who knew the accusers at the time of the alleged conduct, people who called the brothers their friends, do not believe their stories and staunchly believe in Father Pfleger’s innocence.
“Mr. Hollander’s and his clients’ latest ploy makes clear that all they want is money and publicity. Gimmicks are how they hope to get it. They do not care about how damaging their lies are to so many,” Pfleger’s lawyers concluded.
The alleged lie detector claim comes on the heels of a Crusader interview with the Archdiocese about the status of its investigation of this matter.
The head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Blaise Cupich, asked Pfleger to “step aside” from his ministerial duties over the allegations of abuse on January 6, 2021.
When reaching out to Moira Reilly, interim director of Child Abuse Investigations and Review, Crusader questions were referred to Susan Thomas, a public relations person for the Archdiocese.
Asked the status of the archdiocese’s investigation, the answer was, “The investigation is ongoing, and we are following our procedures. The procedures are the same regardless of when the abuse occurred.”
Thomas was reminded that DCFS deemed the charges against Pfleger “unfounded,” and that with States Attorney Kim Foxx’s office not touching it, instead referring the Crusader’s inquiries regarding the case to the Chicago Police Department where officials said, “it is an open investigation.”
The Crusader questioned the reason the Archdiocese’s review board has not come to a decision. Thomas answered, “Questions about the civil authorities should be referred to them.”
Asked why the review board did not honor the canon lawyer’s ruling that Pfleger could return to his parish and that he is not a threat to children, Thomas wrote, “We are following our long-standing policies which require the accused to remain out of ministry until the case has been investigated and the Cardinal has made a decision.
“We are confident that our procedures are in accord with governing church law, including the USCCB Charter for the protection of children and young people, the essential norms and the policies of the Archdiocese.”
Queried regarding the ongoing length of the investigation, Thomas wrote, “It is difficult to say, particularly in the case of multiple allegations.
It will take as long as needed to effect a thorough investigation and provide a well-considered recommendation to the Cardinal.”
Father Pfleger had planned to make his first public appearance in the Auburn Gresham community since being asked to step aside from his ministry by Cardinal Cupich on January 5, 2021. Late Wednesday, March 31, 2021 the Crusader was informed this social event was also considered part of his public ministry and therefore, he was banned from attending by the Archdiocese.
He was going to join Purpose Over Pain, Building the Beloved Community in presenting “Easter Invasion” at Noon on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 79th and Throop Street in the Renaissance Park.
The “Easter Invasion” featured an Easter egg hunt, along with volunteers giving away 300 scooters, 150 Easter baskets, Chromebooks and other prizes. Kids had to be present for the free giveaways which include face masks, barbeque, an ice cream truck, music played by live DJs and 3-on-3 Youth Basketball for ages 9-13. There were opportunities for youth summer jobs.
Those 18 years and older residing in zip codes: 60619, 60620, 60621 and 60636 were invited to register for the free Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.