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

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Goldberg also acknowledged that the American Psychotherapy Association revoked two certifications it granted him because on his applications he failed to mention that he had been convicted of fraud and conspiracy years ago and spent time in prison. Pressed by Bensman, he also said he has never been a licensed counselor but has referred to himself as one in writings and emails and has had input on some of JONAH’s programs.

Calling himself a mentor more than a counselor, Goldberg said he has “spent hours and hours and hours talking to people who are suffering from unwanted homosexuality.”

JONAH’s attorneys have argued that their client’s methods have been shown to be successful and that the plaintiffs didn’t complain or ask for their money back at the time they left the program but only did so after being contacted by activists seeking to shut JONAH down. They also say the men didn’t remain in the program for the two to four years JONAH claims it takes to achieve full conversion.

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One of the plaintiffs, Benjamin Unger, testified last week that one of JONAH’s methods involved using a tennis racket to beat a pillow that was meant to represent his mother, who, he said counselors told him, was responsible for his homosexuality. He also spoke of being urged to spend more time naked with his father.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a law in 2013 banning licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy in New Jersey. Two court challenges to the ban, one by a couple and their son and one by a group that included two licensed therapists, were dismissed by a federal judge. Those decisions were later affirmed by a federal appeals court.

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