A jury on Thursday found a New Jersey
nonprofit that offers so-called gay conversion therapy guilty of
violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of three men and two
parents who say Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH)
fraudulently claimed to provide services that “convert” people
from gay to straight.
The jury found JONAH founder Arthur
Goldberg, a former attorney who was disbarred, and counselor Alan
Downing guilty of fraud under the act.
Plaintiffs in the case were awarded
$72,000 in the civil judgment. A request to revoke JONAH's license
will be considered separately, the AP reported.
During a press conference to announce
the lawsuit, Chaim Levin, one of the plaintiffs, said that he and his
family had spend thousands of dollars on “this scam.”
According to the lawsuit, Downing and
other counselors encouraged clients to blame their parents for their
sexuality, instructing clients to beat effigies of their mothers.