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Woman Sues New York Church over Past Abuse by Youth Pastor

A woman alleging a New York church ignored her frequent abuse at the hands of its former youth pastor has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

The plaintiff, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, said Larry Hallock, a former staff member at Grace Baptist Church in Lansingburgh, abused her “on a daily basis” when she was between the ages of 15 and 17, the Times Union reported.

The abuse included sexual and emotional grooming, oral sex, fondling, and forced sexual touching, according to the suit, and took place between 2000 and 2002.

Hallock’s wife acknowledged in letters sent to the child that she had informed church leaders about her husband’s involvement with the plaintiff, the Times Union said.

The lawsuit calls for the church to be held responsible for what happened on its premises and for the activities of its pastors and claims that Grace Baptist Church leaders said they felt the plaintiff was “culpable” for the abuse because she didn’t “cry for help.”

The suit, filed by attorney Ashley Pileika of Dallas law firm Forester Haynie and Florida attorney Thomas J. Nessler of Nessler & Associates, asks for damages for mental anguish and emotional distress, medical expenses, and litigation costs and attorney fees.

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The woman filed the case under New York’s Child Victims Act, which extends the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases in the state.

Nessler told the Times Union that his client has been “harassed, stalked, threatened by members of the church” and that the abuse has “taken extreme tolls on her personal happiness.”

Grace Baptist has been in the news before, including when protesters and churchgoers clashed over the church’s plan to give away an AR-15 assault rifle in June 2020.

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.