November 27, 2012
JONAH center being sued for false claims on reversing homosexuality
JONAH, a Jewish center in New Jersey that offers therapy to reverse homosexuality, is being sued for allegedly making fraudulent claims.
Four gay men and two of their mothers filed the suit Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court against Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, which offers treatments that the group says can turn its clients straight. Some of the treatments include using rabbinic writings on the subject of homosexuality.
The lawsuit, which was filed through the Southern Poverty Law Center, maintains that the center uses misleading pretenses to entice clients to enroll in its program. The plaintiffs are previous clients of JONAH.
“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine Sun of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”
JONAH founder Arthur Goldberg and counselor Alan Downing violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Acts, the lawsuit said. JONAH therapy options cost a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling and $60 for group sessions, it said, and some clients said their instructions included undressing in front of a mirror or group sessions of standing naked in a circle.
Reacting to the lawsuit, Goldberg told ABC News that many JONAH clients were successful and healed, and “hundreds of the clients we serve are satisfied." He also said, "Our therapy is very conventional.”
The amount of money being sought by the plaintiffs was not made clear but includes the costs spent by clients on JONAH and psychological services that dealt with alleged damages from using JONAH, as well as attorney fees, Reuters reported.