Deerfield woman charged with stalking priest
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN email@example.com November 20, 2012 7:52PM
Lidia Kuzniar, of Deerfield, with the Rev. Michael Pfleger.
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:23AM
CHICAGO — A Deerfield mother allegedly told police that God had ordered her to marry the charismatic and sometime controversial Rev. Michael Pfleger after she was arrested for allegedly stalking the religious leader at his South Side church over the weekend.
Liydia Kuzniar, of the 1100 block of Montgomery Drive, fell in love with Pfleger and even told his assistant that “nothing would stop her” from walking down the aisle with the popular priest, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.
The 55-year-old woman also told authorities that the Catholic Church needed to change its rules and allow priests to wed, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said. And since God asked her to marry Pfleger, Kuzniar felt she didn’t have to obey a prior restraining order because “she only listens to God’s law and not man’s law,” Scaduto said.
Kuzniar, who was denied a request to represent herself at Tuesday’s hearing, nodded her head in agreement when Scaduto discussed Kuzniar’s desire to be with Pfleger.
Judge Edward Harmening ordered the Polish native held without bail for felony stalking and aggravated stalking in violation of an order of protection.
Kuzniar allegedly had been targeting Pfleger for roughly a month. She often tried to rush toward Pfleger during Sunday services at St. Sabina Church and even managed to get near the altar as other parishioners made monetary offerings on Oct. 21, Scaduto said.
She allegedly came back to the church Nov. 4, running down the aisle before she was stopped, taken into the building’s basement and tended to by two doctors associated with the house of worship.
There, Kuzniar told Pfleger’s assistant of God’s request and stated that “nothing would stop her” from marrying Pfleger, Scaduto said.
A day later, Kuzniar came to the church, 1210 W. 78th Place, and sat in the waiting area of Pfleger’s office, saying she needed to see the priest, Scaduto said. When told at 9 p.m. that it was late and that her presence could be seen as trespassing, Kuzniar made her body limp and lay across the floor, Scaduto said.
She eventually was escorted from the church and taken to an area hospital where she underwent psychiatric evaluation before she was released.
On Nov. 8, Kuzniar came back to the church’s office waiting area and sat for several hours before trying to open the locked rectory door where Pfleger was, Scaduto said. She also allegedly tried opening another door, but it was locked. Kuzniar was arrested for trespassing for her alleged activities that day.
The following day, Pfleger obtained an emergency, “no contact” court order against Kuzniar.
But two days later on Nov. 11, she was back at St. Sabina, Scaduto said. When a Chicago police officer who works security at the church confronted her in the parking lot, Kuzniar rolled down her car window and waved her copy of the restraining order, saying she only obeys “God’s law,” Scaduto said.
Again, she was arrested at the church for trespassing. Kuzniar also was charged with misdemeanor stalking.
But Kuzniar came back to the church Sunday when she allegedly ran down the church’s aisle toward the altar where Pfleger stood before she was arrested.
Kuzniar told police she had left her church and fell in love with Pfleger after watching him on television.
“He has enough courage to change the rules of the church,” Scaduto said Kuzniar told authorities.
“She said she was destined to marry him,” Scaduto added.
Kuzniar’s neighbor, Ellen Stevens, 85, was startled by the accusations surrounding someone who came across as a “normal young woman.”
Kuzniar lives alone, but is often visited by her young son who lives with her father, Stevens said. “She just seemed normal to me,” Stevens said.
The public defender’s office was named to represent her and the judge was asked that she undergo psychiatric evaluation while in Cook County Jail.
Pfleger was unavailable for comment.