Arthur Goldberg, the director of a anti-gay “nonprofit” conversion therapy group called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) 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.
The 75-year-old Goldberg acknowledged 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 and that 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,” stating that 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
Goldberg was also pressed to admit 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.
Goldberg testified on the second day of a trial involving four young men who underwent the treatment and sued the group. His 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.
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.