Reporters find tragic story amid embarrassing scandal

Courtesy Muphy Family/CNN

Editor's note: Tonight at 10 ET on CNN TV, "AC360º" examines a shocking "experimental therapy" designed to make feminine boys more masculine. See what one family says was the devastating result in a special report, "The Sissy Boy Experiment."

 The story about Kirk Murphy's suicide began to come to light last year with an anonymous tip: Anti-gay rights activist George Alan Rekers was traveling to Europe with a male escort.

The tip came from one of the escort's acquaintances. We were skeptical, and the tipster answered our skepticism with screenshots of the e-mails Rekers had exchanged with his 20-year-old companion, whom he'd met at We used the screenshots to deduce the approximate time of the pair's return to the United States, and set off to take a picture.

And so it was that on a morning in early April 2010, we found ourselves searching for parking in a congested concrete labyrinth in front of the "C" terminal at Miami International Airport.

Word to the wise: Do not predicate the success of a story upon your ability to find a parking spot on a busy day at MIA.

We were still searching for parking when Rekers' flight arrived early. We were sure we'd missed them, but huffed it into international arrivals anyway.

And we waited. And waited. After 20 minutes, we had made good headway on figuring out how to blame each other for this disaster when the escort came loping out of customs, followed a minute later by an apparently flustered Rekers.

Camera in hand, we shadowed them across baggage claim, taking half a dozen blurry pictures of the pair before snapping a single semi-decent image, in which Rekers was captured preparing to push a cumbersome luggage cart into an elevator.

In the story we subsequently wrote for the Miami New Times, we skimmed Rekers' resumé in sufficient detail to highlight the apparent irony of his European vacation.

Rekers began his professional life as a psychiatrist. In the early 1980s, he co-founded the Family Research Council, a group that lobbies against gay rights. Over the next two decades, he penned books and tracts with titles like "Shaping Your Child's Sexuality" and "Growing Up Straight: What Every Family Should Know About Homosexuality." He testified as an expert witness against gay adoption in Florida and Arkansas, and on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America when the Scouts came under fire for discriminating against gay scoutmasters.

Our story hit the Web on Tuesday, May 4. The next day, Rekers' escort acknowledged to us he had given Rekers sexual massages.

In an interview with us, Rekers denied any sexual contact with the male escort. He claimed he wasn't aware that his companion offered sexual favors for sale over the Internet until after the trip, and said he hired him only to carry his bags.

CNN obtained a contract apparently signed by Rekers with details of his arrangement with the escort.

By the end of the week, the Rekers scandal had been reported from The New York Times to the New Zealand Morning Herald; from "AC360" to "The Colbert Report."

Rekers proclaimed his righteousness and threatened to sue. On his website, Rekers denied being gay.

"Contrary to Internet stories based on this slanderous article," went the message on his website,, "following medical advice Professor George Rekers requires an assistant to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery."

But in fact, we saw Rekers pushing his own luggage cart while the escort idled to the side.

On May 12, Rekers told Christianity Today: "I confessed to the Lord and my family that I was unwise and wrong to hire this travel assistant, not knowing whether he was more than a person raised in a Christian home."

Rekers admitted to putting himself "in a vulnerable situation" where he "tragically became subject to false allegations." Rekers soon resigned his post with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization aimed at altering sexual orientation. He changed his phone number and disappeared.

Who was Kraig?