Main | Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SPLC Sues "Ex-Gay" Group

The Southern Poverty Law Center today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against an "ex-gay" group, accusing them of fraudulent business practices. 
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), pro bono co-counsel Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and the law firm of Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC filed a lawsuit today against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and a counselor, Alan Downing, for peddling conversion therapy services, a dangerous and discredited practice that fraudulently claims to convert people from gay to straight.

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, charges that the defendants violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act through fraudulent and deceptive claims that their counseling services could cure customers of being gay. These fraudulent and deceptive claims include so-called scientific methods invented by Joseph Nicolosi, a founder of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), the leading secular organization promoting conversion therapy.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind to directly sue a conversion therapy provider for fraudulent practices. It describes how the plaintiffs – four young men three of whom are New York residents and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive commercial practices.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”
JONAH was founded by Arthur Goldberg, a disbarred attorney and multiple felon who once worked on Wall Street. View the lawsuit's initial filing here.

Among the suit's plaintiffs are former JONAH client Chaim Levin and his mother, Bella Levin, who paid for his "treatment."  Read about Chaim Levin's experiences at JONAH at Truth Wins Out.

UPDATE: The New York Times has published a lengthy look at the suit.

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