Statement of Attorney Jeff Anderson
(Chicago, IL) – For decades, Reverend Michael Pfleger has earned the praise of peers, parishioners and community members alike, particularly in his role as a prominent priest and advocate in the Archdiocese of Chicago. That is undeniable. And because of this, many in the community have immediately rallied in support of him, decrying the actions of the Archdiocese and protesting his administrative removal pending investigation of sexual abuse allegations naming him as perpetrator.
It’s time for understanding and data gathering; understanding of the dynamics of childhood sexual abuse by an authority figure. When that authority figure is a priest, the child is unable to process what has happened to them, to report it, or take any action. If they do, it is often decades later. This level of understanding requires all of us to realize it takes time for these things to come to the surface and be reported. As advocates for and attorneys of survivors of sexual abuse for four decades, working with thousands of survivors in the Chicagoland area and across this country, we understand the dynamics of childhood sexual abuse by clergy.
We also understand that the decision by the Archdiocese to remove Rev. Pfleger pending an investigation is both appropriate and necessary. The protocols established by the Archdiocese have been implemented under pressure from the work that survivors, their allies, and we have done and continue to do. This work has brought us to a place—a moment and an opportunity—where we can stand in support of survivors of sexual abuse, in support of the actions taken by the Archdiocese of Chicago, and in support of getting to the bottom of the truth. We meet this moment understanding and appreciating that the protection of children is being upheld as a priority and that the rights of the accused are also being respected.
It’s time for information. It’s time for understanding. It’s time for further investigation. It’s time to put the safety of the kids and the community first.
It’s time for truth.