Four gay men who underwent conversion therapy filed a civil suit against their therapists Tuesday, charging the group with fraud under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New York Times reported.
The group, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, which is based in Jersey City, is charged with falsely claiming to be able to eliminate homosexual desires in its clients, the Chicago Tribune reported.
JONAH was founded by Arthur Goldberg and Alan Downing. The group -- which, despite its named, is not religiously affiliated -- describes itself as working "directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions," the New York Times reported.
According to the New York Times, these therapists -- part of a larger group including conservative religious leaders and self-identified "life coaches" -- argue that homosexuality is caused by childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse or parenting issues.
JONAH clients underwent therapy sessions that included removing all their clothes or beating effigies of their mothers, the Chicago Tribune reported. Minimum weekly prices for therapy sessions were $100, with an additional $60 charged for group therapy sessions.
The four men and two of their mothers are being represented by lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights group.
"The defendants peddled antigay pseudoscience, defaming gay people as loathsome and deranged," one of the group's lawyers, Sam Wolfe, told the New York Times.