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Gay Men Sue Conversion Therapy Counselors For Fraud

Conversion Therapy Lawsuit

Four gay men and two mothers have filed lawsuits against a New Jersey gay conversion therapy group that claimed it could make them straight, saying the clinic is a fraud.

The lawsuit filed against Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) claims that the methods used by the conversion therapy group do not work, reports ABC News.

Along with JONAH, the group’s co-director, Arthur Goldberg, and a “life coach” named Alan Downing (who provides the therapy sessions) were named in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Inger, Sheldon Bruck, and Chaim Levin. Two of their mothers, Jo Bruck and Bella LEvin, are also named. All of the men sought help at JONAH for gay conversion therapy, which they all say did not work.

The plaintiffs sought legal help from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC claims that conversion therapy is actually a dangerous practice and has been “discredited or highly criticized” by every major American medical, psychiatric, psychological, and professional organization.

CNN notes that one defendant, Sheldon Bruck, was promised by Goldberg that “JONAH could help him change his orientation from gay to straight.” Each defendant is claiming that they were defrauded by the group, who claims that “being gay is a mental disorder” that can be reversed through conversion therapy.

The therapy can cost up to $10,000 each year. The suit states that the therapy put them at risk of “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior,” but gave them no benefits. Two of the men’s mothers are involved in the suit, because they paid for their sons to have the therapy, as well as the counseling they received afterwards.

Conversion Therapy Lawsuit

Some of the conversion therapy techniques the men were put through included them stripping naked in group sessions, cuddling and intimately holding others of the same sex, violently beating an effigy of their mothers using a tennis racket, visiting bath houses “in order to be nude with father figures,” and being “subjected to ridicule as ‘faggots’ and ‘homos’ in mock locker room scenarios.”

Chaim Levin, who is also an Orthodox Jew, attended therapy sessions at JONAH for 18 months. He spoke with his parents when he came out about sexual abuse he suffered when he was younger. Levin stated at a news conference about the lawsuit on Tuesday:

“I was manipulated into believing that I could change my sexual orientation, but instead I was subjected to terrible abuse that mirrored the traumatic assault that I experienced as a young person. What I can tell you is that conversion therapy does not work. My family and I have wasted thousands of dollars and many house on this scam.”

Samuel Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated that the lawsuit should be a wake up call to the 70 plus conversion therapy providers across the United States, because it shows they can be held accountable for their actions. Wolfe stated:

“We really want to bring this lawsuit to bring attention to this practice that takes place in many parts of the country, preying on vulnerable young people.”

A law signed in California by Governor Jerry Brown last month makes it illegal for conversion therapists to treat anyone under the age of 18.

Do you think that conversion therapy works, or are these four men right to sue for fraud and the psychological damage the therapy caused them?

[Image from Clive Chilvers / Shutterstock.com]

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Comments

9 Responses to “Gay Men Sue Conversion Therapy Counselors For Fraud”

  1. Patrick Frye

    When I read the list of "therapy techniques" I was like, "No wonder it does not work!" I'd hope those practices are not common among similar organizations. Anyone who is truly wanting to help would focus on the psychology, not provide physical abuse.

  2. Michele Archer

    Ha! This sounds like gay guys taking advantage of other gay guys. "And in the exercise, we get naked together!" Lol! You knew it had to happen.

  3. Patrick Frye

    Sorry, but that "science" claim doesn't fly. I've personally met people who've been through such therapy and who are now happily married as a heterosexual couple. I also have a friend whose wife tried to convince him to go but he refused. So obviously "technique" does have something to do with it. I've studied biology for years and AFAIK no one has been able to make a definitive scientific claim on what causes homosexuality (of course, scientists have been rethinking genetics these past 10 years and now know we barely understand it, but that's another story). Even the APA, which you linked to, agrees with me: "There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation." Never mind that the APA only removed homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders in 1973, following three years of political lobbying from homosexual groups. It could be argued that "homosexuality is not a mental disorder" is a political claim, not a scientific claim. Of course, the same applies in reverse since the root cause is unknown.

  4. Kim LaCapria

    Fly with whom, and where did you get your medical degree, Patrick?

    The plural of anecdote isn't data, alas, and you could happily marry a gay man as well if someone forced you to, but the fact remains that no accredited body any longer believes that "curing" gayness is acceptable practice.

    The APA "only" removed that 40 years ago, and this is a datapoint to what? 40 years ago medical science was not nearly as developed as it is now, and 40 years is a long time.

    The fact that no one can pinpoint the precipitate for homosexuality does not mean it is a choice, and the fact remains zero credible professionals claim otherwise. The idea has been rightly filed alongside lobotomies as an embarrassing vestige of a less enlightened past, and so it should be.

    The APA does not "agree with" you, and I am flummoxed at the idea that homosexual people should be allowed to live in peace with the same rights we have being a "political" concept. How so?

    If you could point to one peer-reviewed, accepted bit of literature from an established medical journal to support your claim, I'd be intrigued, because as far as I am aware, modern medical professionals agree that homosexuality is an inborn and non-pathological trait.

    Honestly, it is insulting that you suggest "homosexual groups" lobbied for what is scientific consensus. There is no gay conspiracy to do anything but live among us without getting bashed or called sinful or barred from marrying.

  5. Cathy Frye

    …." modern medical professionals agree that homosexuality is an inborn and non-pathological trait" Really? Everything I read, from unbiased sources (i.e., not homosexuals themselves) says otherwise. It's a lie that has perpetuated itself. Saying this, I don't "hate" homosexuals, I simply disagree to being forced in accepting this "alternate lifestyle". We still have freedom of speech in America don't we?