Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
Historic Complaint Holds Charlatans Accountable For Misleading Clients, Says TWO
Burlington, Vt. – Truth Wins Out, the leading organization fighting the “ex-gay” myth, expressed jubilation today with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lawsuit against the “ex-gay” industry. In a press conference in New York City, SPLC announced that four clients, and two of their mothers, were suing Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its director Arthur Abba Goldberg (pictured), and life coach Alan Downing, for consumer fraud. The complaint was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson County.
“It is critical that these charlatans be held accountable for malice in the guise of medicine that often exacts psychological wreckage on clients and their families,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “JONAH and other ex-gay snake oil salesman offer fraudulent products that promise to heal people who are not sick and fix people who are not broken. This industry cruelly mislead ‘patients’, deliberately misrepresent science, and dangerously plays head games that can cause lasting mental scars. They must be stopped before more lives are ruined.”
SPLC’s lawsuit is based on JONAH and Downing’s “misguided and erroneous belief that that being gay is a mental disorder – a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago.”
“Defendants claimed that their services were scientifically proven to be effective, citing the work of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, one of the primary proponents of conversion therapy, and Richard A. Cohen, who was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for multiple ethics violations related to his conversion therapy services,” according to the SPLC complaint.
Plaintiffs in the case are former clients Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger, Chaim Levin, and Sheldon Bruck. Plaintiffs Bella Levin and Jo Bruck, the respective mothers of Levin and Bruck, paid one or more Defendants for conversion therapy.
The complaint says that the Plaintiffs were instructed to “remove all clothing during both individual and group therapy sessions including an instruction to Levin to hold his penis in front of Defendant Downing. This allegation first came to light in a Truth Wins Out videotaped interview with Levin and Unger. TWO also joined SPLC in several educational forums across the nation in 2011. On Feb. 15, 2010, TWO and South Florida Gay News revealed in an investigation that Abba Goldberg was a convicted felon who bilked clients when he worked on Wall Street.
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.