When Jeff White came out to his parents in 1996, they sent their 14-year-old son to the Bethel Baptist School in Wills, Mississippi for therapy and guidance. What happened next, White claims, was anything but therapeutic.
White, now 32, told the Washington Blade that from the time he was 14 until the time he was 17 he was repeatedly molested by his bible school teacher, who called the abuse “ex-gay therapy” designed to turn White off of men.
“He would rape me because I was gay and because it would make me hate men and make me change,” White said.
The rapes allegedly happened every Wednesday when White went in for his weekly appointment. He claims he was forced to have both oral and anal sex with the teacher.
The man is now an associate pastor at Bethel Baptist Church, which operates the Christian school. The church is known for its hardline approach to Christian doctrine.
White works as the director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, Mississippi’s first LGBT rights center. The National Center for Lesbian Rights recently helped him file a lawsuit against the teacher with the DeSoto County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Department.
“I just can’t overemphasize how proud we are to represent someone this courageous,” Samantha Ames, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Blade. “He’s honestly one of the bravest, one of the most determined people I have ever met and he has a unique, first-hand understanding that these attempts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are linked to a culture of hostility to LGBT people and when you combine that kind of hatred and self-loathing with a position of power, whether it’s in a religious leader or a licensed therapist, people get hurt, sometimes irreparably”
Bethel Baptist Church spokesman Josh Carlisle said the church is aware of an investigation and intends to cooperate with police.