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Judge Shuts Down Jersey City Group Claiming To Offer Gay Conversion Therapy

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A judge on Friday ordered a Jersey City group offering so-called gay conversion therapy to shut down.

As WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini reported, the decision brought an end to a three-year case that began when several men sued the group Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH, for engaging in fraud when it claimed it could turn gay people into heterosexuals.

A judge's ruling Friday granted a permanent injunction against the group.

"Winning this case and finally coming to a conclusion is so much for me on a personal level as far as closure," said Benji Unger of Brooklyn.

Unger was one of the plaintiffs who were awarded damages when a Hudson County jury unanimously ruled in June that JONAH's services were a scam. He said the decision to shut down the group has more than personal meaning.

"Services like JONAH can't take people, promote a fraudulent practice, and have people go through this program and suffer through the program anymore," Unger said.

Unger and three other men sued JONAH in 2012 under New Jersey's consumer fraud laws, claiming the group violated state consumer fraud laws by characterizing homosexuality as a mental disorder and claiming it could successfully change patients' sexual orientation.

The plaintiffs said they underwent treatment that included being told to spend more time naked with their fathers and participating in role-playing in which they were subjected to anti-gay slurs in a locker room setting.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a ban preventing licensed therapists from performing gay conversion therapy for patients under 18 in 2013. The ban has survived multiple challenges.

Once the order is officially entered, JONAH will have about a month to close.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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