The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP filed a complaint on behalf of Katherine McCobb, against California-licensed marriage and family therapist Lloyd Willey. Willey told McCobb that being a lesbian is unnatural and pathological and that her sexual orientation could be changed using therapy. The practice of so-called “conversion therapy” has been discredited by the American Psychological Association and other professional counseling organizations as ineffective, unethical, and dangerous. McCobb paid Willey more than $70,000 for eight years of therapy based on fraudulent, harmful lies.
McCobb began paying Willey for therapy when she was 25 years old. Although she did not seek out therapy because of her sexual orientation, Willey fixated on McCobb’s lesbian identity and began to pressure her to become straight, telling her that being a lesbian was unnatural and that she could “rewire” her brain. He publicly shamed her during group therapy sessions and urged her to change her appearance to be more stereotypically feminine, including losing weight, growing out her hair, changing her wardrobe, and wearing make-up. Willey also pressured her to begin dating a man who was also Willey’s client.
In February of 2019, the parties resolved the litigation confidentially.