Anyone who has seriously looked into "conversion therapy" and "ex-gay ministries" knows that they are fraudulent, but for years they have dogged accountability and liability by hiding behind religious belief and typically not using licensed therapists who might be held accountable by state licensing authorities. The main purpose of the "ministries" has been to rake in money - some charge $10,000 or more per year - and to maintain the myth for political purposes that gays can "change." The sad reality is that one is as likely to be cured of metastasized cancer by an African witch doctor as they are to be made "straight" by one of these "ministries." Hence why the case pending in New Jersey is unique because it is based on consumer fraud. The Guardian has details on the opening statements. Here are excerpts:
[I]in his opening statement for the plaintiffs, David Dinielli, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center that has spearheaded the lawsuit, said that all three men named in the action had been deceived. “The young men are all gay. They were defrauded – they paid money to the defendants to change them from gay to straight but all they got was junk science and discredited so-called ‘cures’.”
He added: “Jonah lied – they made it worse.”
In addition to Unger, the plaintiffs include Chaim Levin who was 18 when he sought the help of Jonah and Michael Ferguson who was 25.
Dinielli outlined in court the multiple lies he said Jonah’s founders and contractors had told the plaintiffs about their services. They included the claim that homosexuality was a disease or disorder. “This is false. There is a long-standing scientific consensus that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder but a normal variation of human sexuality,” Dinielli said.
The judge presiding over the case, Peter Bariso, has already ruled in pre-trial hearings that should it be proven that Jonah described homosexuality as a medical or mental – as opposed to religious – disease or disorder, that would be a violation of the state’s consumer fraud act.
Dinielli went on to say that Jonah had claimed falsely:
Dinielli described aspects of Jonah’s activities that he implied to the jury were peculiar or irregular. One such activity – or “process” as Jonah calls it – was “healthy touch” where younger clients and older counselors held each other for long periods of time.
- that its therapy was based on science;
- that it had successfully cured a third of the men who had been through its program – a figure that it boasted despite having kept no records of past cases;
- and that the conversion could be effected within three or four years.
“They turn the lights down low, play soft music and cuddle. The theory is that gay men missed out on father physical affection when they were young and that’s one of the reasons they are gay. The theory is that old men possess ‘golden father energy’ that they can transmit to the younger participants,” Dinielli said.
The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Hopefully the plaintiffs win and the case set set the template for suing other of these quack ministries run by Charlatans like Michele Bachmann's closeted husband "Marcia" Bachmann. These scam artists need to be shut down nationwide.