Counselor who operated the Renew homosexual recovery program at Church of Christ South MacArthur gets 7 years probation, loses license
Christopher Austin, 43, was convicted this week on two counts of felony sexual assault in connection with his work in the homosexual recovery program Renew.
Austin, who ran the program out of the Irving Church of Christ South MacArthur, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the felony charges, but he was given seven years probation instead. He also was ordered to register as a sex offender and to pay a $2,500 fine.
Austin first came to the attention of law enforcement officers in 2002 when he was charged with felony sexual assault and six felony counts of child pornography in connection with his treatment of a male client. The male client also filed a John Doe civil lawsuit against Austin, but he later dropped all civil and criminal proceedings against the counselor, saying he could not “handle it anymore.”
The client, Mark Hufford, later revealed his identity, saying he had come to grips with his sexual orientation. News coverage led to other victims coming forward and the filing of new sexual assault charges.
Hufford said Austin treated him for recovery from homosexuality through the use of “touch therapy.” During one year of therapy, the treatment advanced to nude sessions and physical intimacy, including oral sex.
Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, applauded the conviction of Austin.
“We are deeply gratified that this “‘ex-gay’ predator is no longer in the counseling business, where he exploited his position of authority to sexually abuse vulnerable clients,” said Besen, whose group monitors ex-gay ministries. “Ex-gay therapy is extemely dangerous and places confused clients in the hands of repressed therapists. It is a recipe for disasater.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 7, 2007