NY gays accuse NJ therapy group of false promises

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Four gay men accused a New Jersey organization of fraud Tuesday for selling "conversion therapy" with false promises to make them straight.

They said during a Manhattan news conference that they were subjected to humiliations that included stripping naked and taking a baseball bat to effigies of their mothers.

The four attended sessions at the Jersey City, N.J.-based Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing, or JONAH. The nonprofit advertises in Jewish publications and claims to rid men of same-sex attractions.

Three of the men are Jewish — Chaim Levin, Benjamin Unger, and Sheldon Bruck. The fourth, Michael Ferguson, is a Mormon now living in Salt Lake City who was a college student in New York when he signed up for the services.

The men say in a lawsuit that the methods do not work and should not be marketed under New Jersey's consumer protection laws. They say the suit was filed Tuesday in New Jersey, but officials there could not confirm receiving it.

The men say in the suit that JONAH's practices included telling them "that gay sexual orientation is a mental disorder and gay people must change to straight in order to lead satisfying and happy lives" and "that when conversion therapy does not produce the promised results, the clients themselves are to blame for not sufficiently investing in and surrendering to Defendants' services."

JONAH did not return calls requesting comment.

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