"Ex-Gay" Counselor Convicted of Sexual Assault on Man
An Irvine, Texas "ex-gay" counselor has been convicted of sexually assaulting a male client, ordered to register as a sex offender, and sentenced to ten years in prison.
AS Queerty reported in a Sept. 6 posting, Chris Austin, a preacher with Renew Ministries, received seven years’ probation even though he was sentenced to a decade in prison. Austin was also fined $2,500.
Queerty quoted Truth Wins Out, an "ex-ex-gay" group whose name riffs on the name of a Christian "ex-gay" group called Love Won Out, as expressing "relief" at the sentence.
"The abuse apparently involved a bit of unwanted penetration," Queerty reported, noting that a previous claim from 2001 pitted Austin against a man named Mark Hufford, who brought a civil suit against the preacher based on similar accusations, but later dropped it.
Truth Wins Out’s website posted a story in which it reported that a jury had found Austin guilty of "unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly caus[ing] penetration" of a man referred to by the pseudonym Stephen Trask.
The Truth Wins Out report also said that Austin was the founder of Renew Ministries, which is a counseling center operating from an Irving, Texas church.
Austin was affiliated with NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and had presented a seminar at a NARTH convention in 2004 called "Understanding and Treating Compulsive Sexual Behavior in Men with Value-Incongruent Homosexual Issues: A Multidimensional Approach."
The Truth Wins Out story quoted from Austin’s own writings, citing the sentence, "Before addressing the brokenness in others, we must defeat all the responses of our own flesh."
Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, issued a statement that read in part, "We are deeply gratified that this ’ex-gay’ predator is no longer in the counseling business, where he exploited his position of authority to sexually abuse vulnerable clients."
Besen’s statement continued, "Ex-gay therapy is extremely dangerous and places confused clients in the hands of repressed therapists. It is a recipe for disaster."
Said Besen, "As we have seen with Christopher Austin, Mark Foley and Larry Craig, gay people who do not learn to accept themselves act out in unhealthy ways."
Added Besen, "I hope Austin can use this experience to come out and have healthy gay relationships, so he won’t have to exploit other people."