Student claims he was forced to watch ‘conversion therapy’ video after being caught with gay porn at America’s richest private school
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former student who says his school forced him to watch a ‘conversion therapy’ video as a punishment for watching gay porn.
The lawsuit was levelled at the Milton Hershey boys’ boarding school, the richest private school in the United States with about $13.8 billion in assets, IRS records show.
Student Adam Dobson says he was forced to watch an hour-long ‘conversion therapy’ video of the homophobic pastor Sy Rogers, the leader of the ‘gay cure’ movement, as punishment for downloading gay porn as a high school freshman.
He said this was was followed by a campaign of prayer sessions and other efforts to get him to change his sexual orientation.
Judge disagrees video by notorious ‘gay cure’ leader was ‘conversion therapy’.
On Wednesday (May 6) Judge John E. Jones III dismissed the case, questioning whether Dobson’s treatment constituted conversion therapy.
“Plaintiff’s subjective accusation that Defendants engaged in ‘gay conversion therapy’ does not make it so,” he wrote in his ruling.
He said that Dobson had “failed to identify any basis in the record to conclude that what he characterises as gay-conversion therapy resulted in the injuries he alleges”.
Dobson says he was forced to watch the video by his house parents, Andrew and Deanna Slamans, who were school employees.
After his case was publicised, another gay Hershey graduate who boarded in the Slamans’ home said that he too had been forced to watch the Rogers video.
Hershey’s admitted that boys boarding at the school watched the video, but maintained it was not conversion therapy.
The judge ruled the video to be acceptable and said the prayer campaign did not constitute conversion therapy either as the couple “never explicitly mentioned his sexual orientation during the prayers” and “never indicated in the prayers that they preferred that he be straight”.
The prayers were reportedly focused on “resolving his confusion and forgiving”.
It seems that they didn’t have the intended effect as by the time of his junior year Dobson attempt suicide. He was expelled after the attempt in 2013.
Hershey School spokesperson Lisa Scullin said that the federal ruling vindicated the school staff.
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“We cared for Adam deeply and his betrayal of us and the school has caused us great pain,” the Slamanses said.
The school is also embroiled in a second lawsuit filed by the parents of a former student who took her own life after the institution refused to let her return to campus due to her depression and suicidal thoughts.