By Michelle Watson, CNN
Father Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina Parish in Chicago, has been reinstated after an independent review board found “no reason” to keep him away following the latest accusation of sexual abuse against him.
Pfleger posted a picture of the letter from the archbishop of Chicago to the community on Facebook on Saturday, with the caption, “Like MJ said. ‘I’M BACK.'”
Pfleger was previously asked to step aside in October after another allegation of sex abuse against him surfaced. His latest accuser was a man in his late 40s who filed a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Eugene K. Hollander, an attorney for the accuser, told CNN affiliate WLS.
“The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” the independent review letter said.
Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote, “I am reinstating Father Pfleger to his position of senior pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, effective immediately.”
In a phone call Sunday with CNN, Hollander called Pfleger’s reinstatement “extremely disappointing.”
Pfleger, whose two-word announcement quoted Michael Jordan’s return to the Chicago Bulls in 1995, served as senior pastor in St. Sabina’s morning worship service earlier in the day Sunday, according to a webstream from the church.
Hollander said there is an “overwhelming amount of evidence of alleged sexual abuse” facing the priest, but despite it all, he’s been reinstated.
Pfleger denied the October allegations, saying at the time: “Let me be clear — I am completely innocent of this accusation. While I am confident that the new allegation will also be determined to be unfounded, this process is so unfair and painful to me and to the community I serve.”
“It seems like most of my ministry I have spent fighting to stay a priest and to continue to work for justice, and to serve the good people of St. Sabina’s and our community. I cannot express how difficult, disruptive, and painful this process is to me and to those who are close to me,” Pfleger continued.
Pfleger was previously suspended by the diocese in 2021 after three men alleged they were sexually abused by the priest in the 1970s. In May 2021 Cupich said Pfleger would be reinstated in June after an independent review board examined the cases and found “insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
Pfleger also denied those accusations at the time.
Hollander tells CNN he and his client are discussing their next steps.
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