Ex Focus on the Family Speaker Jayson Graves Barred from Practicing in Colorado
Exclusive Investigation by Wayne Besen, Matt Ashcroft and Stevie Inghram
In a 2009 interview with Christian host Michael Johnson, notorious “ex-gay” therapist Jayson Graves sanctimoniously pontificated, “We need to be able to actually put our cards on the table and say, ‘hey, yeah,’ this is the date I last crossed one of my boundaries.”
Eight years later, Graves studiously avoided displaying his rancid hand of cards. In a video promoting conversion therapy for the rabidly homophobic Family Policy Alliance, Graves said:
“I practiced for 17 years as a psychotherapist. Then recently I shifted to doing pastoral coaching. So, what I do though is help people with sexual integrity issues.”
What Graves conveniently omitted, was that he didn’t merely “shift” his path from high-flying psychotherapist to lowbrow life coach. His professional implosion and career change was due to punitive actions taken against him by mental health regulators in Colorado.
Truth Wins Out, working in conjunction with renowned anti-conversion therapy advocates, Matt Ashcroft and Stevie Inghram, uncovered, in an exclusive investigation, that Graves was unceremoniously forced out of his profession by Colorado’s State Board of Registered Psychotherapists for allegedly sexually assaulting a client.
Jason Graves: A Rising Political Star in Colorado Springs Evangelical Movement
Graves received his Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University in 2002. The charismatic therapist moved to Colorado Springs to start his career and was a rising star who quickly built an impressive resume.
Graves served as the National Program Director for New Life Ministry’s “Every Man’s Battle” seminars. He was a speaker for Focus on the Family conferences and the host of “The Blazing Grace Show” radio program and SkyAngel Network’s “Pure Passion” ex-gay television show. Graves sometimes collaborated with now-defunct “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International, which promoted “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.”
Despite his upward career trajectory, Graves’ seductive peacocking and diva-like tirades alienated many in the “ex-gay” industry. Relatively handsome, he often posed shirtless to show off his physique, which raised eyebrows, considering he was supposed to be helping Christians “pray away the gay.”
Randy Scobey, a former “ex-gay” leader with Exodus International, described Graves as an arrogant phony who liked to seduce people who were struggling to change their sexual orientation.
“In my experience, he sent mixed signals when he wasn’t a condescending prima-donna,” Scobey said in our interview. “Jayson is handsome and knows it. He was often flirty and charming and gave off a very sensual vibe. Usually, that would be fine when you don’t live in a cult-like atmosphere. But in that [ex-gay] world, at that time, his demeanor and approach would cause some to stumble into temptation. In other words, to sexualize him in their thoughts. And I do not doubt he secretly enjoyed turning others on and getting that kind of attention.”
Graves’ testimony claims, with no evidence, that he became gay after being abused as a child. He now centers his work on “treating” children and teens. “This fight is for vulnerable kids — just like I was at eight years old,” Graves told the Family Policy Council.
Graves started a counseling business, “Healing for the Soul”, where he solicits clients with manipulative sales pitches:
You’ve landed. You’ve arrived at a site dedicated to Sexual Addiction Recovery and help for Unwanted Same Sex Attraction.
You’ve probably got a sick feeling in your stomach. Or you may be scared, lonely, and ashamed, feeling sure no one can help. Maybe you’ve hit rock bottom and you feel no one can understand. From the pain in your heart and mind you may be screaming, “Can anybody help me? Is there a way out?”
Yes there is. There is hope.
A Bright Future Derailed After Credible Sexual Assault Allegation
Unfortunately for Graves, his future was put in jeopardy on July 8, 2016. The State Board of Registered Psychotherapists for the State of Colorado received a complaint claiming that Graves had “sexual contact with a client/patient” and that the client was allegedly “touched.” According to the complaint:
“I (Austin intern therapist), spoke with you (Kimberly DiBiase, State of Colorado) about a sexual assault that was carried out by a RP [registered psychotherapist] named Jayson Graves. I was uneasy about giving any identifying details via the online complaint form and you advised me to send this email instead. The patient has expressed concern about retribution from the therapist.”
There was legitimate concern for potential retaliation. In case documents it was disclosed that Graves “has, from time to time, carried a concealed firearm,” and he would “let clients know proactively that he would carry concealed so they would be aware and comfortable in case they saw or noticed the concealed firearm.” Perhaps, this comforted some clients, but others likely felt intimidated. A pistol packing shrink is unusual and probably made clients think twice before crossing Graves.
After reviewing the evidence, the state of Colorado expressed serious concerns, concluding, “The Board determined it had reasonable cause to believe Respondent is unable to practice as an RP with reasonable skill and safety to clients.”
Graves’ attorney Michael Francisco responded to the allegations. He adamantly asserted that the complaint against his client was a “false accusation”:
“To the best of Mr. Graves recollection, more than a year after seeing [redacted name] the only touching that would have ever happened would have been Mr. Graves offering a hug, and upon his verbal ascent. Even so, that would have only happened once, maybe twice, and may never have happened. Mr. Graves simply lacks any specific memory of having offered a hug to (but it is a common courtesy of Mr. Graves to offer a hug to various clients.) …Mr. Graves categorically denies ever touching in any inappropriate way, let alone in any way approaching sexual misconduct or sexual assault.“
An Alleged Creepy and Disturbing Restroom Incident
It seems inappropriate and unprofessional for Graves to be engaged in “hugging” his clients – even if he first solicited permission. However, his physical embrace of clients is unsurprising considering Graves’ direct ties to The International Healing Foundation (IHF), which promotes “touch therapy” to “heal” gay clients. Graves served as a counselor at IHF’s Breakthrough Weekend, which offered “male bonding through physical and emotional exercises.” A client who attended a Breakthrough Weekend with Graves said the physical exercises in question included counselors touching and holding workshop attendees.
In his staunch defense, attorney Michael Francisco inadvertently disclosed troubling details of the complaint filed against Graves, including a pervy restroom incident:
The letter mentions an incident in a restroom that, like the touching accusation, never happened. Mr. Graves has no memory of ever being in his office’s shared bathroom at the same time as [redacted]. Never in his life has Mr. Graves peered at another person in a bathroom, much less with a client. This accusation is categorically false.
One would think Graves would have been eager to defend himself against a potentially career-ending charge. When it came time to fight back, however, Graves mysteriously became a shrinking violet.
On December 12, 2016, Graves “submitted to a mental status examination,” ordered by the state of Colorado. Apparently, it didn’t go well and on December 16, the state’s evaluator concluded, “she was unable to determine whether Respondent [Graves] was safe to practice as a registered psychotherapist in the State of Colorado without additional information.”
The state ordered Graves to “submit to further examination.”
Graves Loudly Proclaimed Innocence Until It Was Time to Present Evidence
This is where it gets fishy. Graves “did not schedule the additional examination within the proscribed time period.” By February 2017, the state board concluded, “Respondent has not shown good cause for failure to submit to the additional examination.”
On March 7, 2017, the Board rendered its verdict, stripping Graves of his professional credentials. He lost his registration and “cannot engage in the practice of psychotherapy in the State of Colorado or hold himself out as able to practice psychotherapy in the State of Colorado while his registration is summarily suspended.”
If Graves was innocent, one suspects he would have vigorously defended himself. It’s difficult, almost unfathomable, to believe he would have meekly surrendered his imploding career without a fight. Was he concerned the state had amassed incriminating information, concluding it was safer to lose his professional status rather than appear at an examination?
Discredited Quack Reinvents Himself As Arizona Life Coach
Defeated and disgraced, Graves slinked out of Colorado and moved to Mesa, Arizona. He reinvented himself as an ordained minister and “life coach.” On Life Tips website, Graves says one of his “specialties” is therapy for “teens and tweens.” His personal website, Healing for the Soul, lists his services to teenagers, which include:
Recovery from sexual addiction, including internet pornography, and/or compulsive masturbation; Shepherding healthy, appropriate sexual understanding and self-control.
Graves’ services are currently available at Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa. One wonders whether Canyon Vista or his current clients are aware of the circumstances in which Graves’ credentials were stripped in Colorado? Is it appropriate for a counselor who lost his career due to a sexual assault allegation, deemed credible by the state of Colorado, to counsel vulnerable youth?
Bravehearts is another venue that has embraced Graves. This Christian advice website offers “recovery to redemption” for sexual addiction and provides mentors, as well as a plethora of online videos.
Graves appeared as an “expert” in the organization’s Breaking Free Summit, which is a 10-day series of virtual seminars. On Day 8, Graves advises viewers in a video alongside Bryan and Joann Pilcher. The couple owns Mesa-Arizona-based Second Chance Recovery Center, which works with clients to overcome sex and pornography addiction.
It’s worth noting that Bryan Pilcher is a Level 2 registered sex offender. Pilcher’s stated offenses include “public sexual indecency and public sexual indecency to a minor”, “indecent exposure” and “violation of sex offender registration (failure To Register).”
Eerily, the address listed in Pilcher’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office rap sheet, is the same one he provides for his Second Chance Recovery Center. It is unclear how well, or even if, Pilcher and Graves know each other, outside of appearing together in the Bravehearts seminar. We contacted Pilcher and he denied knowing Graves and claims the two men have never met in person.
Speaking of “birds of a feather”, Graves was once best friends with disgraced conversion therapist Christopher Doyle and a frequent guest at Doyle’s Virginia home, before they had a falling out. In his Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) bio, Doyle wrote:
“I tried to have sex with the little girls that my mother watched in her daycare, and eventually, one of the girls told her parents what I was doing.”
It often seems that conversion “ex-gay” therapy attracts the shadiest of charlatans and predatory wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s a repository for reprobates who pretend to be “helping” others when they are really in the business of trying to exorcize their own repugnant demons. Under no circumstances is conversion therapy, or the offices of conversion therapists, safe for LGBTQ youth.
Jayson Lee Graves: A Moldy Charlatan Who Doesn’t Practice What He Preaches
In activist Michael Johnson’s 2009 interview with Graves, he tellingly said, “Mold only grows in the darkness. When we put things in the light, that stops growing.”
The “ex-gay” life coach is correct, which is why we filed our report today. Past clients he may have harmed deserve vindication. Potential clients deserve the truth before procuring his services. The public must have access to the facts about Graves, a preening, sanctimonious “ex-gay” huckster who has peddled misinformation against LGBTQ people for decades.
Based on the evidence, Graves crosses moral boundaries, refuses to live with the sexual integrity he demands of others and deliberately fails to put his sordid cards on the table regarding his ignominious career scandal in Colorado. Jayson Graves must be brought into the disinfecting light of truth to stop his toxic lies and moldy theories from further growing and harming more victims.
If you have additional information about Jayson Graves or other conversion quacks, please contact Truth Wins Out, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn more about “ex-gay” history and the discredited practice of conversion therapy? Purchase Wayne Besen’s Lies with a Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and Cons Inside the ‘Ex-Gay’ Industry. All proceeds from sales benefit Truth Wins Out’s fight against the “ex-gay” industry.