Abigail Barker is discussing something not many people go public with.

“The topic of childhood sexual abuse is an inherently difficult topic to talk about. People don’t want to talk about it,” Barker said.

But that’s exactly what she wants to do. She says when she was five years old, she was sexually abused when she was babysat by her Sunday school teacher and deacon at Victorious Life Christian Church in Troy.

What You Need To Know

  • Abigail Barker says that, as a child, she was sexually abused by a Sunday school teacher and deacon at Troy's Victorious Life Christian Church

  • Barker says her alleged abuser was cleared of any wrongdoing by the church less than two years after the allegation

  • The church denies responsibility for any alleged abuse

A lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act says Barker came forward with the allegation less than two years after the alleged abuse. She says at six years old, she was interviewed by the church’s elder, and her alleged abuser was cleared of any wrongdoing. He worked at Victorious Life until 2011, and his wife remains a deacon.

“It’s so concerning to think and know and believe that there’s an individual that has continued contact with children, who’s had a credible claim against him, and no one did anything,” said Melanie Wolk, Barker’s attorney.

Church Elder Dominick Brignola denies any responsibility from the church. In a statement to Spectrum News, he said in part: “The legal word games that attempt to create some type of culpability where none exists is sheer nonsense and actually poorly done.”

Barker says she’s at peace with filing the lawsuit – something she never thought would be possible. And now, she hopes others take advantage of the extended lookback window and finally discuss the reality of abuse.

“The more people talk about it, the more freedom there is in it,” Barker said. “The more comfort and peace there is in it. The more healing comes from it. So whether you decide to share your story or file a CVA, whatever you decide to do, I cannot encourage people enough, especially if they came from the Evangelical Church.”

The lookback window is now open until August 2021, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved an extension Monday.