By Peter J. Smith
MIAMI, Florida, May 14, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Professor George Rekers, a pro-family leader and expert on homosexuality, who is embroiled in a scandal after he was found to have hired a traveling companion with a profile on a homosexual escort service website, has resigned his membership on the board of National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). He said that he made the decision in order to resolve the allegations made against him through defamation attorneys.
At the same time, a leading Christian legal advocacy group, Liberty Counsel, has offered to provide him their services in the event of legal action. "I think [Mr. Rekers] would have a great case to file a defamation action," Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told the Washington Times.
Rekers, 61, was caught on camera by the Miami New Times on April 13 returning from a 10 day trip in Europe with a homosexual male escort later identified as Jo-vanni Roman, 20.
Roman at first denied that he had any sexual involvement with Rekers, but later alleged that Rekers paid him $75 a day plus travel expenses in exchange for acting as a travel assistant, translator, and sensual masseur. According to a contract allegedly made between Rekers and Roman, a copy of which Roman showed to CNN, Rekers specifically contracted Roman to provide an hourly massage every day while on the trip.
Rekers, a co-founder of the Family Research Council (FRC) and professor emeritus of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina, has denied accusations that he had sexual involvement with Roman, saying only that he required a travelling companion to help lift luggage because of recent surgery. He has also denied that he contacted Roman through the website rentboys.com, which Roman has claimed was the only way Rekers could have found him.
The embattled pro-family leader, who has seen his career and reputation collapse under the weight of the allegations, has threatened to sue media outlets like the New Times for “defamation.”
Rekers is not without his supporters. "I think it was a completely arranged setup," Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver told the Washington Times, referring to how staff members of the New Times managed to ambush Rekers and Roman as they made their way through the Miami airport.
The possibility that Rekers is the victim of a set-up owing to his connections with NARTH cannot be completely ruled out. Earlier this year Dr. Julie Hamilton, president of NARTH, revealed that protestors at NARTH’s 2009 Convention had announced they would go after individual members associated with the organization. Hamilton said one journalist in England conducted a sting against two therapists by posing as a client with unwanted homosexual attractions.
But while the Miami New Times revealed Thursday that they did indeed ambush Roman and Rekers, they said Roman was not involved in any set-up. According to their account one of Roman’s friends knew his passwords, got into his email, and gave the newspaper screen shots of Roman’s e-mails and his travel itinerary. The New Times journalists studied the information, camped out at the airport, snapped the photo, and spoke with both Rekers and Roman before breaking the story May 4.
Rekers says he has opted to resolve the matter through attorneys instead of addressing the allegations through the media.
"With the assistance of a defamation attorney, I will fight these false reports because I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever,” said a statement from Rekers. “I am not gay and never have been.”
NARTH has accepted Rekers resignation and in a statement said they “would hope that the legal process will sufficiently clarify the questions that have arisen in this unfortunate situation.”
“We express our sincere sympathy to all individuals, regardless of their perspective, who have been injured by these events.”
Rekers Responds to Conflicting Accounts about Finding Jo-Vanni Roman
At this point Rekers may be the only one who can set the record straight; but thus far his explanations have been somewhat thin on the details, especially on the issue of how he found Roman.
The New Times on Thursday stated that Rekers told them that he found Roman through a Google search.
The New Times asked, "Where did you find out about his services as a travel companion? Where were they being advertised?"
Rekers allegedly responded: "I did a Google search for 'travel companion,' and he came up on that. I contacted him."
New Times then said they asked whether Rekers found him on RentBoy.com or not. The newspaper said that after a long silence, Rekers said: "I don't know if it was or not."
LSN contacted Rekers twice by e-mail last Friday to get his version. He wrote in response that Roman was “recommended to me for my travel assistant by an acquaintance I trusted,” an explanation that appears to contradict what he told the New Times, assuming that the Times quoted him accurately.
Rekers added that he regretted “not taking more time to do a more thorough background check” on Roman before hiring him in retrospect.
“When I talked to him before the trip as a possible assistant, when describing his past work experience as a travel companion, he told me that he had recently worked as a companion to a foreign visitor to another state for numerous weeks,” said Rekers. “He further volunteered that it was purely a social companionship and not sexual. In addition to having relevant experience, he was also fluent in Spanish and could serve as an interpreter in Spain.”
Rekers then said that he “searched his name on the Internet (with Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and did not find any negative information about him before the trip.”
In an e-mail sent to LSN today, Rekers addressed the apparent conflict between the Miami New Times account and the one he gave to LSN.
Rekers said that before the scandal broke in the media, the New Miami Times reporter, “called with a very accusatory tone, and asked me about how I found my travel assistant. He seemed to have his mind made up, and did not give me time for a full explanation, before interrupting and ending the call with insufficient time for me to respond fully."
“I had started to try to explain that I made multiple attempts to find an assistant including making a Google search and asking others, and never had the chance to complete my thoughts. He did not give me time to complete my response that my Google search ran into several dead ends in terms of finding someone in my needed time frame. The Miami New Times reporter never interviewed me at any length and terminated that call prematurely before I could make full explanation.”
LSN had requested that Rekers speak to us on the record, but he responded: “Because this has become a legal matter concerning defamation, I have been advised not to grant the interview you requested to more fully explain at this time.”
See previous coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
FRC Responds to Reports of Pro-Family Leader Accused of Affair with Male Escort