Pastor Sued for Seducing Sisters in Counseling

Women wanted help - got trouble

NBC News, New York/August 21, 2009

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor her sister.

A Long Island pastor allegedly violated more than a few commandments and ended up seducing the sibling wives in two couples he was giving marriage counseling to.

"We were living parallel lives, [he was] taking us to the same places, [telling] the same lies," said Cynthia Gallo.

Now Pastor Lawrence Carrino, and his former Grace Gospel Church in Patchogue, are being sued by Gallo, her sister Valerie Spielman and Valerie's husband Steven for ruining their lives.

The two women separately sought marriage counseling from Carrino two years ago, then, they say, he used his pulpit to seduce them.

"It was under the guise of romance and security and god ordained love," said Gallo. "He told me in pastoral confidence that my husband had an affair and that was a green light from God that we be together."

The women even say that they had trysts at local motels where Carrino used his ministerial position to get discounted rates for rooms, and that the man of the cloth used church cars to shuttle them back and forth.

The plaintiff's attorney John Ray said the suit for undisclosed damages is a result of the pastor "using his pulpit to seduce them break down their defense determine they are weak and to prey upon them."

Carrino, who is married, was fired last year after the church found out about his sinful ways. Church officials deny there was any knowledge of the carnal activities.

The married pastor admits in court documents that he had the affairs, but he says the sex was consensual - in fact, the women seduced him, he claims.

Carrino has since moved to Minnesota, but one of the goals of the suit is to stop him from opening another counseling center.

"The kind of destruction that he did is unconscionable and it needs to stop," said Valerie Spielman.

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