Cleary Gottlieb and SPLC File Motion Against JIFGA for Continuing to Operate Fraudulent Conversion Therapy

April 4, 2019

Cleary Gottlieb, along with co-counsel the Southern Poverty Law Center and Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC, filed a motion asking a judge to institute contempt proceedings against JIFGA (Jewish Institute for Global Awareness), formerly known as JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), for violating an injunction entered in 2015 requiring that it permanently cease all operations and completely halt all elements of its fraudulent gay-to-straight “conversion therapy” program.

In a landmark June 2015 victory, a jury found that JONAH falsely claimed that it could change its clients from gay to straight and that JONAH’s conversion therapy program was unconscionable, and therefore violated New Jersey’s consumer fraud law. The jury ordered the defendants to compensate the plaintiffs for the fees paid for the “therapy” as well as for legal fees. In December 2015, the New Jersey Superior Court issued a decision entering a permanent injunction, which forced JONAH permanently to cease any and all operations and to dissolve, as part of an agreement between JONAH, its founders, and plaintiffs represented by the SPLC and its co-counsel.

The motion filed on March 27, 2019, sets forth that, within weeks of the entry of the injunction, JONAH began violating the court order by promoting and facilitating conversion therapy by making referrals to individual counselors and to “experiential weekends” that purported to help people change from gay to straight, by collecting referral fees, by acting as a middleman between clients and counselors, and by participating in the organization and facilitation of conversion therapy programs.

The motion asks the court to institute criminal contempt proceedings against some of the original defendants, to find that they have violated the settlement agreement between the parties as well as the court’s injunction, and to award additional attorney fees.