Two sisters are suing a Patchogue church and its former pastor for manipulating them into a sexual relationship with him.
Valerie Spielman and her sister Cindy Gallo held a news conference in their Miller Place attorney's office Thursday, recounting years of counseling they received from the former pastor of Grace Gospel Church.
They said Lawrence Carrino, who has since moved to Minnesota, took advantage of their psychological weaknesses in order to have countless secret sexual encounters.
"It was under the guise of romance . . . God-ordained love," Gallo, 43, of Medford said of the relationship. The sisters said at first, they were not aware of each other's relationship with the pastor, but found out over time.
The sisters' attorney, John Ray, said church attorneys attempted to have the suit dismissed under a state law that prevents civil suits alleging seduction between consenting adults.
A Suffolk Supreme Court judge on Wednesday denied the church's motion to dismiss allegations against Grace Gospel, allowing the case to go forward, Ray said.
Grace Gospel attorney Len Lesser of Manhattan said Carrino was terminated after he disclosed extramarital affairs and is no longer affiliated with the church.
Lesser said the church is considering an appeal.
Carrino couldn't be reached Thursday.