Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dilemma at heart of sex abuse claims


“No one ever had a bad word to say about him.”

In late May, 2015, it was revealed that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert had sexually molested boys he coached in high school wrestling. The media descended on his hometown of Yorkville, Illinois. Those who knew him were shocked and supportive.

“He was a fantastic mentor.”

Hastert was charged, not with the abuse itself, but for structuring payments to silence the abused. Which isn’t quite a signed confession. But close.

“I would have known for sure. Something like that we would have jumped on right away.”

Only the good people of Yorkville didn’t know. Or knew and didn’t jump on it right away. Hastert admitted to molesting children and went to prison for 13 months.

“I hope it’s not true.”

Which sums up the view of those who know and respect Father Michael Pfleger, including myself, as the longtime firebrand priest of St. Sabina’s faces a pair of brothers who accuse him of abuse 45 years ago. 

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  1. I've never liked Pflakey Pfleger!
    I remember the times he broke into stores selling things he didn't like, such as small bottle of liquor or even cigarettes.
    He broke down the locked doors where the owners didn't want him in.
    And he was never convicted, because the minor charges against him were dismissed by the State's Attorney's office.
    He's a whack job & obviously crazy man.
    I'm definitely inclined to believe all of this!

    1. Did not know about those "minor charges"...

      All I know about him is what I read in the papers. Mostly about his long-time crusades, if that's the right word, against gangs and gangbanging on the South Side.

      Say what you will about him. But in my eyes, the man has always had a lot of guts. I'm amazed he wasn't offed a long time ago. Maybe he has a guardian angel. Or two. Or even three.

      Is that outfit still around? Never hear about them anymore.
      Back in the day, they had plenty of guts, too.

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  2. What does their silence say about the victims? That they are frightened by the power of the catholic church? That the stigma of being sexually abused contributes to remaining silent. That getting their names and those of their families monetized by the media is to be avoided? That they've formed a conspiracy to extort money? Who knows?

    Appreciated the piece on poetry yesterday. Wish I hadn't read this one. Speculative journalism . Not a fan

  3. The law can be an "ass" sometimes, as Mr. Micawber insisted, but it can also reflect deeply held beliefs, such as the notion that there be limits (statutes of limitation) that require that require that certain accusations must be brought forward within a certain period of time or be lost forever. Various circumstances have led lawmakers to remove such limitations for certain types of offense. Likewise, public opinion seems to support extending the time to report sexual offenses, especially if powerful and/or famous people are allegedly involved. I personally think this is unfair, given that the accusation itself, without any corroboration whatsoever, is an unerasable stain on a person's reputation, and can outweigh years of spotless exemplary behavior beneficial to needy individuals and society at large.


  4. Well, there’s no denying the sexual drive in the male species. It is certain that harassment, and abuse, has gone on since the beginning of time. It’s just so hard to prove prior episodes.

  5. There was another Catholic priest, whose name escapes me, who got a lot of attention in the 1980s for adopting a couple of kids. He also was hit with a sex-abuse claim, but nothing ever came of it IIRC.

  6. That other priest would be Father George Clements, a colleague of Pfleger's.

  7. I think Neil reaches a reasonable conclusion, and I'm certainly troubled by the lack of any other claims and just the sheer length of time from the alleged abuse. I understand the current thinking that victims should be believed, but then have to question why claims against other powerful men, like Trump, Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Thomas, for example, are all widely disbelieved.


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