NEW JERSEY: Jury Hears Openings In "Ex-Gay" Fraud Suit Filed by SPLC
Via the Associated Press:
The four plaintiffs sued Jersey City-based JONAH in 2012, claiming the group violated state consumer fraud laws by characterizing homosexuality as a mental disorder and claiming it could successfully change patients' sexual orientation. The plaintiffs say they underwent treatment that included being told to spend more time naked with their fathers and participating in role-playing in which they were subjected to anti-gay slurs in a locker room setting. "My clients needed help but JONAH lied and JONAH made it worse," plaintiffs' attorney David Diniello told jurors. "All they got was junk science and so-called cures."One plaintiff reports that the "therapy" included beating a pillow with a tennis racket while screaming about his mother. (You might remember "ex-gay" nutter Richard Cohen demonstrating this on CNN.) In 2012 plaintiff Chaim Levin told Truth Wins Out that his JONAH treatment included "removing my clothing and touching myself in a locked room" while the counselor watched.
Three of the four plaintiffs were young men from Orthodox Jewish families in Brooklyn, Diniello said, who were grappling with their sexuality in a culture in which "there were no gay people" and there was pressure to marry and have children. The fourth, Michael Ferguson, is a Mormon who sought out JONAH. Attorney Charles LiMandri, representing JONAH, said none of the four asked for their money back at the time. "All four of these men left JONAH on good terms, speaking glowingly" of their experience and referring it to friends, he said. It was only after being contacted by activists that they denounced the organization, he said. "The plaintiffs became aggressors after they left JONAH to destroy JONAH," LiMandri said.