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.”

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.

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.

  • barracks9

    Bright lights, great disinfectant.

    • Yeah the ex-gay activists get very uncomfortable with
      talking about what actually goes on in SOCE. These programs try to operate in secrecy as much as possible because their methods are obvious quackery to any outside observer. Providing detail about what goes on in these programs is damaging to the ex-gay industry in and of itself.

  • TheManicMechanic

    I hope this begins a total destruction of all these so-called ex-gay quackery groups and facilities.

    • KnownDonorDad

      Here’s hoping. I think nationwide marriage equality is going to help push that along, too.

      • Well the less anti-gay discrimination exists the less reason exists for gay people to consider ex-gay therapy as an option at all. The ex-gay industry depends on family and social rejection to drive people into ex-gay programs. So yes, I expect that nationwide marriage equality will contribute to further reducing the practice of SOCE.

      • vorpal

        I also keep hoping that when marriage equality becomes law across the US, it will drive things forward in other countries. Like it or not, the US still does lead many political trends and spurs change on the international scene.

        • B Snow

          I think we’re lagging on this issue. But you might be right in the scenario where if we get marriage here, other countries might say, “If those rednecks can do it, maybe it’s time for us to change, too.”

          • vorpal

            Oh, the US is undoubtedly lagging miserably on the issue of marriage equality, but hopefully soon it will be pretty much resolved for good.

            The US has also undeniably lost a lot of respect over the last couple of decades on the world stage, but still does carry a lot of influence. I hope that ME in the US will inspire Australia to finally follow suit, and maybe push things along in some of the Asian areas where the idea is being entertained, such as in Taiwan and South Korea.

        • KnownDonorDad

          Agreed! If Ireland can affect Australia, imagine what we can do.

    • vorpal

      If the SPLC wins, I suspect that it might inspire some of the other groups to close down purely out of fear.

      I sure hope so. Every group that shuts down will probably spare immeasurable amounts of pain from many LGBT teens.

      • Reality.Bites

        I still want to see all the parents sued into the poorhouse.

        • vorpal

          I suspect that that will never happen, but I would like to see “reparative therapy” be labeled as child abuse and any future parents trying to force their children into such programs find themselves facing either steep fines, arrest, or removal of their children.

          • Reality.Bites

            There have to be SOME really bitter, angry victims out there.

  • Todd20036

    “They didn’t ask for their money back.” Maybe because they were told they were failures who needed further “counseling”, or some such.

    • Ted

      Or maybe they were so stunned by it all they couldn’t think on their best behalf.

    • James

      Or maybe they were already so browbeaten and broken they feared being further alienated from their “loved” ones and communities.

  • bkmn

    And they call us sick.

  • BearEyes

    “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.

    maybe they just said nice things to get the hell out of there.

    • Gustav2

      Every exit interview with horrible bosses I have been complimentary to them.

  • Octavio

    OK, OK . . . stop me if you’ve heard this one. Three Jews and a Mormon walk into a conversion therapy clinic . . . .

    • another_steve

      Been there done that, Octavio.

      In the U.S. there are four major branches of practicing Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. Of the four, only the Orthodox (thankfully the smallest and soon-to-be-phased-out-due-to-the-glory-of-the-life-expectancy-tables) is fully homophobic. The other three are either totally with-it or in the process of evolving to totally with-it.

      Me, I’m culturally Jewish. My mother was the granddaughter of a rabbi.

      I’m in it only for the food (luscious, all you unknowing gentile bitches out there), the language (Yiddish being the ultimate “dissing language”) and the emotional hysterics.

      • Octavio

        I sort of know the basics of Judaism. But thanks for the refresher. However, my post wasn’t a jab at Judaism. It’s a riff on the old joke formula of “A rabbi, a muslim and a priest walk into a bar . . . ” and then variations — the the perspective of each religion — are played out in some form. For more on the subject, peruse the many videos of Alan King to be found on Yutube. He was the master of this particular form. πŸ™‚

        • another_steve

          Octavio, the true test of whether one is anti-Jewish (and of course I know you aren’t, silly one) is whether one can accurately answer these two questions:

          1. What quasi-fish thing sold in bottles in most American supermarkets (certainly most supermarkets in the New York City area) is a delicacy of the Jewish people?

          and

          2. What usually reddish or brownish vegetable substance (in the same family as mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage) is traditionally eaten with said quasi-fish thing?

          (The clock is ticking, Octavio.)

          • Dreaming Vertebrate

            Looks like Octavio is stumped or left the thread.
            Is lox one of the answers?

          • another_steve

            No.

            The “Gentile” is strong on this blog.

            The pseudo-fish-in-a-bottle starts with the letter “G” and is generally eaten as an appetizer.

          • vorpal

            Well, (1) is gefilte fish, which terrifies me to the very core of my being :-).

            As for (2), I suspect it’s horseradish?

            Sounds like a ghastly combination, but hey – I’ve never tried it, so I’d give it a go. My experience with Jewish food is very close to zero, but more out of lack of opportunity than lack of desire.

          • another_steve

            One hundred points, vorpal.

            My very goyish and Christian husband did not know from gefilte fish and horseradish until my mother force-fed them to him… but since then, he’s been an addict.

            You must, patiently and persistently, try the two in combination, vorpal.

            Second to my addiction to Czech gay male porn is my addiction to gefilte fish and horseradish.

          • vorpal

            Haha! I would definitely be up for some Jewish delicacies (rawr), but gefilte fish looks a little terror inducing :-). But I am a trooper and would give it a try!

            (I have come a LONG way from back in my childhood and teens when even a cheese pizza was too experimental for my horribly, obnoxiously picky palate. Now I am addicted to many international cuisines – especially those of SE Asia – and am willing to try almost anything, with a few restrictions. For example, I cannot bring myself to eat a serving of prepared animal brains. Never ever ever ever. I don’t care how delicious they might be. I won’t do it.)

            I have largely given up porn as of a few months ago (with very rare lapses)… I was not heavily into it, but enjoyed it as an aid in self-pleasure; however, I found that it was reducing my desire to have actual sex, and desensitizing me to sexual stimulation.

            But Czech porn is pretty nice indeed :-). I have a big thing for the uncut boys!

          • another_steve

            I’ve been sexually monogamous (with the occasional lapse) with the same man for 41 years… so you’ll understand and forgive my affection for Czech porn, vorpal. lol.

            Do try the gefilte fish, vorpal. Consider it a dare.

            Ten generations of dead Jewish grandmothers will rotate in their graves in thanksgiving.

          • vorpal

            Haha – not sure that I’ll be able to find gefilte fish here in Chile (any kind of cuisine is so hard to get and so limited in selection here), but next time I am in an area with a substantial Jewish population, I will be obedient and make a point of it :D.

            41 years? Impressive! Wow! Hubby and I just celebrated 11 years exactly one week ago (and I snapped him up when he was very young – 22, and I was 26), and we have been mostly monogamous. (Me – entirely monogamous, he – cheated on me in our first year together and as a result we almost didn’t get to that second year, and monogamous since then.)

            Not sure that we will always be monogamous in the future, but no specific plans yet to let that change: just an agreement to discuss on a case-by-case basis should anything very appealing come up. (No specific going out and looking for anything allowed, though.)

          • another_steve

            Vorpal — Eleven years, in breeder years, is 40 years in queer years.

            Congratulations to you and your loved one.

            I don’t know whether Chile has a substantial culturally-Jewish population, but if not, there’s always the Internet when it comes to ordering ethnic foods.

            Peace to you and your beloved, my brother. πŸ˜‰

          • Reality.Bites

            When made by a skilled cook gefilte fish can occasionally aspire to edible.

            Horseradish, of course, is not unique to Jewish cooking. Popular in English and as it happens, Japanese. Most Wasabi is a mixture of horseradish, mustard, starch and green food colouring

          • vorpal

            LOL… that’s quite an endorsement :-).

            Oh yes… horseradish is a popular condiment around my place. Never had it reddish brown, though: it’s always been light. Is it fermented when served with gefilte fish?

            While I am a picky little bitch when it comes to both sushi and men, I aspire to one day have real, fresh wasabi in Japan instead of the coloured horseradish that is generally served due to the price and fragility of wasabi.

          • Reality.Bites

            Not fermented, no. Just beet juice added.

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Khreyn_Beet_Horseradish.JPG

            And if I had to guess why, it makes a nice contrast on the greyish fish.

            As for the endorsement, well as a child, like many people, I couldn’t stand fish. As I grew up I started to enjoy fish. Better preparation methods (baked, not boiled) made it, if not palatable, at least edible on those occasions where serving it is not optional (much like fruit cake at Christmas, although the worst gefilte fish does not approach the vileness of the best fruit cake.)

            I’ll end with this:

            Jethro, roll up your sleeves, because you and me has got some trees to cut down so we can commence buildin’ our cabin.

            Yes, sir.

            And work up a appetite ’cause I’m gonna bring back a mess of perch.

            Oh, granny, uh, see, can you catch some of them new york fish honest john was tellin’ about.

            Them what he called, uh, gefilte fish?

          • People4Humanity

            “:-). I have a big thing”

          • B Snow
          • Octavio

            Uh . . . uh . . . anchovies and ketchup? πŸ™‚

          • vorpal

            The term “quasi-fish” is admittedly quite terrifying. πŸ˜€

            I have a difficult time with fish in general, but even if someone tried to serve me “quasi-quail” or “pseudo-pork”, I would likely be comparably frightened :-).

          • Gene

            πŸ™‚ My mom worked for an amazing family, two intermarried ones in fact, in Jersey in the 60’s. they called her “Kentucky” and she taught them how to make REAL fried chicken, biscuits, gravy (she got inventive) and they taught HER how to make REAL, not than Manischevitz crap in a jar, gefilte fish! when done well, a PLEASURE! we visited them for 2 or 3 weeks every summer after dad died. I love them still, and miss some of the older family who are gone. three of them were survivors Another_steve. Only when I was in my teens did I learn their stories…I also got to know THEIR cousins in Israel, and, I admit, these personal ties have always colored how I look at the conflict there. I am still the “white goy gay cousin in the south” who sends good gifts for bat and bar mitzvahs. πŸ™‚
            …and, as it happens, I was the only 13 year old kid in Eastern Ky who, when presented with a sandwich responded with “what, you call THIS a Reuben?” and me about my wedding ring sometime πŸ™‚
            shalom!

          • another_steve

            Gene, it’s personal stories like yours that keep me coming back to JMG.

            Thank you.

            πŸ˜‰

          • Gene

            oyyy….just trying to be a mensch.
            I have lost most of my Yiddish, but, mom was GOOD with it, and I knew enough that we had, for all intents and purposes, a private language. It was EASTERN KENTUCKY. duh. to this day, a now divorced away (thank god) from our family former wife of a favorite cousin,( still run into now and again as its a rural area), idiot of a woman thinks mom was so nice for that sweet exotic term of endearment she had for her that “just always made me feel special when she would call me that”
            Mashugena
            It took the southern “bless your heart” to a whole new fucking level, no?
            Explains my humor, no? A lethal combo of southern decadent, Appalachian snide, and the borscht belt.

          • another_steve

            Southern trash and the culturally Jewish have a cultural bond, Gene. My husband is southern trash and he and I immediately bonded. From Day One.

            In my experience, the closest thing to culturally Jewish is Italian Catholic.

            The only difference there is the tomato sauce.

          • Gene

            gravy…its called gravy. Least, in Jersey.
            πŸ˜‰
            your right…although (and not offended!) my family have even more humor potential, for one side is THE stereotypical southern family…and the other, old laded money (both of moms sides) and dad being a Cherokee whose family were (I shit you not, from Butcher holler). I joke that I grew up with the good silver and the shotguns to defend it. My husbands Chinese…I have told the story here of the ring he gave me to make me happy, and seal out civil union in VT (pre marriage anywhere) before, but, long and short of it, he saw me admire a ring at the MET shop. the queen behind the counter said “that’s a popular one. roman period, found near capernum. silver, heavy carving and granulated”. “You go on” he told me. I need to shop for my family, so, I left for the restaurant. An hour later, there we were, eating. and he just said “I CANT wait..open it!” and he gave me the ring. “I…I love it” I said. “I know you love anything Latin” he said. “uh..its great, but, its not Latin” “he said it was Roman” “No, Roman period…but I love it” “but, it has latin on it” (remember here, he was a RED GUARD in Communist China!) “No..it is inscribed…see…here is the letter Mem…zeh…..lamed”….my little Chinese, gave me, his husband, the Hatfield (I said THE southern family, I meant it) a Mazel Tov ring for our wedding…and, made me the happiest man alive.
            “when you get that?” “Oh, my man gave it go me” “ohh..he’s good”…the “cousins” in Jersey approved of his good taste. πŸ™‚

          • another_steve

            To my possible detriment, Gene, I understand all of that.

            The goyim are very weird.

            Rule One of cultural Judaism:

            The goyim are very weird.

          • Gene

            and thanks for the kind words and high praise. πŸ™‚

      • B Snow

        I don’t think Orthodoxy will be phased out anytime soon — like religious fundamentalists everywhere, they’re encouraged to marry young and breed often.

        • another_steve

          Their young are on the Internet and gathering information as we speak.

          Information will, ultimately, set them free.

          In my opinion.

          • B Snow

            I hope so!

        • BobSF_94117

          With Israel at least taking a few halting steps to curtail the free ride, there may be hope.

        • another_steve

          Young Jews, in general, are with-it. Not all of them, but most of them. In my opinion.

          We cultural Jews carry within us a genetic remembrance of oppression.

          (The above may be meaningless to most goyim reading here, but will resonate with most cultural Jews reading here, I suspect.)

      • Gene

        uh..sad to say, but, the Orthodox are the fastest growing. by far. by leaps and bounds far. The Reformed, fading like a leaf in autumn. Intermarriage…low birthrates…two things the Orthodox/Hasidim in particular don’t have. I wish you were right, but, alas, nope.
        Even the voting patterns of cities like NYC are being affected, and city hall is taking notice

        • another_steve

          I have limited training in the area of demographic science, Gene, but my sense is that we (progressive peoples) are on the winning edge of it.

          The Internet.

          Information.

          Real-time, real-life, information.

          All honor and praise to thee, O Life Expectancy Tables.

          • Gene

            Alas…(hi by the way), demographics are my specialty. Read Dershovitzs “the disappearing American Jew” (yes, him…the lawyer), and check the demographics of Jewish population in the New York metro area, as well as southern florida. Those abusive rabbis? they ORDER their followers to reproduce at a terrifying rate, and, they do. google Kiryas Joel. there are more and more places like that, and whole sections of the City…..Scary…
            and their kids? no internet, no radio. fear of shunning if they leave.
            It is SCARY as HELL.
            πŸ™

          • another_steve

            I think the naysayers are wrong in this arena, Gene.

            Cultural (not necessarily religious) Jews have a genetic remembrance of oppression. This is not something that can be communicated to pollsters, but something that is real nevertheless.

            Thirty years from now — were you and I to poll American Jews — I’d predict that 95 percent of them would be horrified by the persecution of the Palestinian people and horrified by any then-remaining remnants of institutional homophobia, worldwide.

            Cultural Jews have a genetic remembrance of persecution.

    • Todd20036

      … and fuck.
      I’m not well.

      • Octavio

        πŸ™‚

      • B Snow

        Hello, Lucas Entertainment? Have I got an idea for YOU!!

    • Reality.Bites

      Well they could hardly be expected to walk into a bar!

  • delk

    What’s worst? Gay conversion therapy or a religion that claims no gays exist.

    • vorpal

      They usually go hand in hand.

  • Dan Robinson

    Those “treatments” sound more like exploitive abuse than any sort of therapy.

    • Dreaming Vertebrate

      … and totally creepy!

    • Don’t “sound like”, they ARE.

  • Stefano_A

    I’m confused… Didn’t Judge Peter Bariso in Superior Court already rule in this case in February that JONAH had committed fraud?

    Edit:
    Nevermind! An article published by Metro Weekly cleared up my confusion, as the February ruling was only a preliminary ruling on specific legal claims and allowing the lawsuit to proceed on other claims.

  • So spending more time naked with one’s father is supposed to
    turn one heterosexual?? I guess the assertion there is that the individual didn’t spend enough time naked with their father as a child and that’s why they became gay in the first place…seeking out something that they missed. Which raises the question how much time do they think boys should spend naked with their fathers growing up and in what context? Would love to have these questions posed to them in court.

    • BobSF_94117

      I think you’re missing the marketing aspect. Guilty mom. Guilty dad.

      It doesn’t have to make any sense, just needs to open the purses/pockets/

    • Reality.Bites

      I dunno. I think spending time naked with my father would at least suppress my homosexuality, if not encourage heterosexuality.

    • People4Humanity

      + How much naked time did
      Joshua spend with Jim Bob?

  • JCF

    “his JONAH treatment included “removing my clothing and touching myself in a locked room” while the counselor watched”

    Of course, take EVERY LAST CENT. But where are the CRIMINAL charges????

  • Hi everyone, just letting you know I’m attending this trial. I also attended 3 days of pretrial proceedings beginning last Friday, including jury selection.

    Links to a summation of last Friday’s proceedings and the parties’ Trial Memos are here: http://on.fb.me/1M8lalQ

    I’m working on getting caught up with M-W summations over the next few days. (no court today or Friday).

    I will also be posting all the significant documents in the case. In the meantime, a few are available at the SPLC site here: http://bit.ly/1PSiu1T