According to ABC7, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina Parish in Chicago has been accused of sexually abusing a minor.
Father Michael Pfleger, 71-years-old, faces the allegation of sexually abusing a minor 40 years ago. The allegation was reported to the St. Sabina parish and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The investigation is underway, and no charges have been filed yet.
Father Pfleger has been asked to step aside from the ministry as the investigation continues. No details have been released about the incident.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent, an experienced sexual abuse lawyer, licensed in Chicago, has represented numerous victims of sexual abuse. Below, we asked Brian to provide insight into victims' legal rights sexually abused by a pastor.
"Parishes have a legal obligation to keep members in their community safe and do their best to prevent sexual abuse. In many sex abuse cases, an abuser is a person highly trusted in their community. Unfortunately, across the country, we have seen many cases involving pastors and other clergy members abusing their religious organization members. These organizations must do their best to protect their members from sexual predators."
"In cases where a clergy member abuses victims, the investigation should focus on both the clergy member and the church. The investigation should determine whether church officials failed to protect their members as a result of negligence. An example of negligence is if church officials ignored previous sexual misconduct reports of a clergy member. In negligence cases, victims and their families may have grounds for a civil lawsuit."