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"Gay conversion" therapy violates N.J. fraud law, jury says

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- A nonprofit organization that claimed its so-called gay conversion therapy would turn gay men straight violated the state's consumer fraud act, a jury found Thursday in a civil trial.

The jury found that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing and its co-founder Arthur Goldberg made false promises that they could turn homosexuals into heterosexuals by, among other methods, having them spend more time naked with their fathers.

Three men and two parents were awarded $72,000. The judge will rule later on their request to revoke the company's license.

Four young men sued the group in 2012 under New Jersey's consumer fraud laws.

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Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the group lied about its success rate and used methods that had no scientific basis.

The group's attorneys argued that it didn't make guarantees and should be allowed to offer help to people struggling with their sexuality.

The trial began this month and featured testimony from the men about the group's methods, which they said included using a tennis racket to beat a pillow that was meant to represent one man's mother and engaging in role play that included a locker room scene where gay slurs were used.

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The original four plaintiffs, three from Orthodox Jewish families and the fourth a Mormon, alleged the nonprofit exploited them with false promises as they struggled with their same-sex attractions in strict religious environments where they were expected to marry women and have children.

One man dropped out of the suit, but his mother remained.

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