Originally published on Advocate.com May 05 2010 4:50 PM ET
He’s been photographed accompanying Family Research Council cofounder George Alan Rekers in his travels, and Rekers admits to hiring the undergraduate-age, blond escort for a European trip but denies engaging in "inappropriate behavior."
“Lucien,” the young man at the center of an emerging scandal involving one of the most influential leaders of the "ex-gay" movement, identifies himself as Jo-vanni Roman on his Facebook and MySpace
profiles, The Advocate has learned.
Reached Wednesday by phone, a man purporting to be Roman repeatedly declined to discuss any details of being hired by Rekers for a recent 10-day trip to Madrid and London. “I don’t think people realize how serious this has gotten, and I would have talked about this had my privacy been respected,” Roman said, referring to his Rentboy.com profile, which was posted Tuesday by Unzipped, followed by several gay blogs.
“There’s absolutely nothing else I can say,” Roman added.
According to Facebook and MySpace profiles created by Roman, he is a 20-year-old Miami resident and a 2008 graduate of Felix Varela High School in The Hammocks, an unincorporated suburb located 20 miles west of Miami.
In a Wednesday statement on his website, Rekers referred to Roman — known on his Rentboy profile as “Geo” and as “Mark” on a profile on Men4RentNow.com — as his “travel assistant” who was hired “to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery.”
“A recent article in an alternative newspaper cleverly gave false impressions of inappropriate behavior because of its misleading innuendo, incorrectly implying that Professor George Rekers used the Rentboy website to hire a prostitute to accompany him on a recent trip,” the statement read. “Dr. Rekers found his recent travel assistant by interviewing acquaintances, and only found out about his travel assistant’s alleged prostitution activity and Internet advertisements during the trip. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship. Professor Rekers was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant."
The Miami New Times broke the story in a Tuesday article, referring to the escort using the pseudonym “Lucien.” The story was quickly followed in the LGBT media and mainstream outlets, including CBS News and The Washington Post.
Despite his statement, Rekers intimated in a Tuesday message via Facebook to Joe.My.God blogger Joe Jervis that he had hired the escort as part of his ongoing Christian ministry. Rekers said he shared “scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse” with the young man whom he had hired.
“Like Jesus Christ, I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them,” Rekers wrote.
In the New Times article Roman did not disclose details of the trip but described Rekers as a man who “honestly cares about taking care of kids."
Rekers is a cofounder of the Family Research Council, along with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. He is a board member of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a group promoting “ex-gay” reparative therapy, which is widely condemned by health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. Rekers is also a member of the American College of Pediatricians, which had submitted a friend-of-the-court brief opposing marriage equality in the federal challenge to Proposition 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
In 2008, Rekers served as a paid expert witness in a lawsuit in which he defended Florida’s ban on adoption by gay people. According to Equality Florida, Rekers and a colleague were paid $87,000 for their testimony.
Rekers replied to a request for comment with his previous statement via e-mail.