Lawyers for Pennsylvania’s Milton Hershey School, the country’s wealthiest private school, have now admitted that staff showed a conversion therapy video to at least one student at the school, although they can’t confirm that it was shown to the former student who is currently suing the school in federal court, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.
The former student, Adam Dobson, alleges that Hershey houseparents, who have been identified as Andrew and Deanna Slamans, forced him to watch the hour-long conversion therapy video One of the Boys by Sy Rogers, an “ex-gay” movement propagandist who worked for Exodus International, which no longer exists. Dobson says he was forced to watch the video as punishment for downloading gay porn to his computer when he was a freshman.
“We would pray together to have God help me from being gay,” Dobson told his lawyers, according to the Daily News. The houseparents also regaled the high schooler at the time with stories of the “terrible things that happened to other gay people,” he said.
In 2013, when Dobson was a junior, the school expelled him for having admitted to wrapping a belt around his neck in response to having suicidal thoughts.
Last year, when Dobson initially accused the school of showing him the conversion therapy video, representatives of the school vehemently denied the allegations, calling Dobson’s assertion “outrageous.” But court documents have surfaced in which school officials admit the anti-LGBT video was shown to at least one student.
A spokeswoman for the school, Lisa Scullin, who responded to Dobson’s suit against the school by saying conversion therapy is a “practice the administration would never allow or condone,” doubled down on denying official involvement in response to the revelation that conversion therapy had indeed been promoted at Hershey.
“Unequivocally, the school does not promote or endorse any program that could be remotely characterized as gay conversion therapy,” Scullin said. “Any suggestion otherwise is a gross mischaracterization of our values and the environment on our campus.”
Deanna Slamans, who wrote the book Faith’s Pursuit: Understanding God’s Faithfulness in Suffering the same year she allegedly exposed Dobson to ex-gay propaganda, worked at the Milton Hershey School until last month. According to her husband Andrew Slamans's LinkedIn account, he is currently a director in the school’s home life division, the Daily News reports.