Jewish Group Accused of ’Ex Gay’ Lies
Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a group that offers conversion therapy to gays, was sued for fraud in New Jersey state court. JONAH’s operator and founder Arthur Goldberg first came to national attention in February of 2010 when the South Florida Gay News and Truth Wins Out did a joint investigative report exposing him as a convicted felon and disbarred attorney who had pled guilty to federal and wire mail fraud charges in a phony bond scheme.
While Goldberg protested those past deeds were irrelevant to his current business, SFGN showed the lengths he went to conceal his corrupt acts. The Associated Press reported this week on the present lawsuits by three plaintiffs who allege that JONAH has been using discredited conversion therapy tactics to "cure homosexuals." They are asking that JONAH’s business license be revoked for violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, seeking cash damages as well.
"This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable in a court of law," said Samuel Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, talking to CNN.
Three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH’s claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy -- "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that the methods do not work and shouldn’t be marketed. JONAH’s Arthur Goldberg replied that the suit is "meritless", arguing that it chills his first amendment rights to freedom of speech. Meanwhile, the pleadings in the litigation accuse JONAH of utilizing shocking techniques to reach their goal of conversion therapy.
Specifically, the participants in the program were required to strip nude during sessions, intimately hold other males, and spend more time with other nude males in health clubs and bathhouses, "in order to be nude with father figures." One of the JONAH ’life coaches’ also named in the suit, Alan Downing, was also accused of encouraging the plaintiff to lie naked and touch their penis and buttocks.
The reparative therapy methods used by many of these clinics are so offensive and discredited that earlier this year California passed a law banning them for clients under age 18. Governor Jerry Brown went as far as to call the procedures "quackery." According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are still about 70 conversion therapists practicing in 20 states.
JONAH’s leader, Arthur Goldberg, is 72. He did 18 months in federal prison, starting in 1989, for his fraud conviction. Revealed in the SFGN expose, the pre-trial report submitted to the court for sentencing purposes accused him of "conspiratorial fraud of spectacular scope," alleging he was "knowingly and willfully dishonest." Meanwhile, he stands by his philosophy that all gays "can readapt from their gender deficiencies" with reparative therapy.
The SFGN expose of JONAH was covered in the national press and can be accessed on our website at http://bit.ly/cm7CfA