Jun. 16—Chad McComas, founder and executive director of Rogue Retreat, a major provider of services to homeless people, has been placed on paid administrative leave while the nonprofit's board conducts a "complete and thorough investigation" about a church tied to McComas alleged to have ties to gay conversion therapy.
Rogue Retreat's Board of Directors has begun a formal investigation into claims brought to light last week by activist groups alleging that a Celebrate Recovery group at Set Free Christian Fellowship — a church founded by McComas — was distributing pamphlets seeking to convert people attracted to the same sex as recently as 2018.
Rogue Retreat houses about 550 homeless people a night at shelters it manages — some in private-public partnerships with the city of Medford such as the "tiny duplex" Hope Village located on a combination of private and city-owned property.
McComas founded Set Free as a church focused on addiction recovery in 1997 and helped found Rogue Retreat a year later, according to a November 2019 interview with McComas. At the time McComas said, "I'm a man of faith, but Rogue Retreat is not a faith-based organization."
The nonprofit shifted its emphasis from addiction treatment to homelessness in 2006, starting with a small apartment complex.
In the aftermath of a 26-page report issued June 9 by the environmental group Siskiyou Rising Tide and Siskiyou Abolition Project, which showed a copy of conversion therapy pamphlets such as one titled "Same Sex Attraction: The Problem and Solution for Men," the city of Medford paused funding to the group and asked Rogue Retreat's board to "conduct a full and objective investigation of the allegations."
In compliance with the latter request, Rogue Retreat board Chair Tom Fischer said in an emailed statement that the board had placed McComas on paid leave "so that the Board of Directors and outside sources can conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the allegations and their legitimacy."
The nonprofit's board and staff will work closely with an "independent source" during the investigation, according to Fischer's statement, and stated that "Rogue Retreat board members or staff will not discuss confidential personnel matters."
Rogue Retreat staff are taking "necessary steps" to make sure "that our guests and community partners still receive the same care and attention" as before, according to the statement.
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