Head of ‘gay conversion’ therapy group testifies he believes homosexuality is a spiritual disorder

Defendant Arthur Goldberg, co-director of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, listens to opening statements in the trial against JONAH, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Jersey City, N.J.

Defendant Arthur Goldberg, co-director of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, listens to opening statements in the trial against JONAH, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Jersey City, N.J. Alex Remnick, The Star-Ledger (AP)

Defendant Arthur Goldberg, co-director of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, listens to opening statements in the trial against JONAH, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Jersey City, N.J. Alex Remnick, The Star-Ledger (AP)

Defendant Arthur Goldberg, co-director of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, listens to opening statements in the trial against JONAH, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Jersey City, N.J.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The director of a nonprofit being sued for offering so-called gay conversion therapy acknowledged on the witness stand Monday that the group claims a “success” rate of 65 to 75 percent to turn gay men to straight even though it doesn’t keep its own statistics and relies on anecdotal evidence from counselors.

Arthur Goldberg also testified that he believes homosexuality is a spiritual disorder and a condition caused by emotional wounds occurring in childhood and adolescence that can be cured through a “gender-affirming” process such as that offered by his organization.

Goldberg testified on the second day of a trial involving four young men who underwent the treatment and sued the group, Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, in 2012.

They claim the group, known by the acronym JONAH, violated New Jersey consumer protection laws by making fraudulent claims and misrepresentations about what it could do. They are seeking to have JONAH’s business license revoked and to be reimbursed for the therapy they paid for as well as separate counseling they underwent after leaving the program.

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On the stand Monday, the 75-year-old Goldberg acknowledged that while in emails and writings on the group’s website JONAH claims that roughly two-thirds of men who go through the program are “successfully healed,” he relies on anecdotal evidence from counselors affiliated with JONAH to reach those numbers.

“It’s an estimate,” he said under questioning from plaintiffs’ attorney Lina Bensman.

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