07/19/2013

Judge rejects conversion therapy group’s attempt to have SPLC case thrown out

A judge has denied a New Jersey organization’s motion to dismiss an SPLC lawsuit that accuses the group of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. denied the motion by Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) immediately following oral arguments in court today.

“We are pleased that the judge validated the viability of our legal claims and saw through the defendants’ smoke and mirrors argument,” said Sam Wolfe, senior SPLC staff attorney. “The defendants tried to make this about religious beliefs. But our case is about the defendants’ fraudulent claims that their conversion therapy program will change sexual orientation from gay to straight.”

The case, Ferguson v. JONAH, was filed in November. Conversion therapy services have been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive business practices.

The law firms of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP and Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC are serving as the SPLC’s co-counsel on the case.