Leonard Cohen's Ex-Manager Guilty of Harassment
A jury convicted Leonard Cohen's former business manager Thursday of harassing the singer-songwriter and repeatedly violating a court order to stop contacting him. The panel reached its verdict within hours of receiving the case that featured Cohen testifying that the tone of Kelley Lynch's emails and calls left him annoyed and at times scared.
The Canadian-born singer testified against Lynch for portions of three days, saying she had sent hundreds of emails and voicemails since he cut ties with her in 2004.
The case focused on messages left between February 2011 and January of this year. "'Cohen is going to be hung' is not agreeable to hear," the singer told jurors Tuesday.
The panel heard dozens of expletive-filled messages Lynch left for Cohen, 77, some of which described him as her enemy. Deputy City Attorney Sandra Jo Streeter stacked several binders containing the emails on a table in front of the jury during closing arguments.
Lynch could face up to five years in jail after being convicted of two counts of leaving or sending harassing or obscene messages and five counts of violating a restraining order, Streeter said. All the charges were misdemeanors.
"She made his life a complete and utter living hell," Streeter told jurors in closing arguments. Many of the messages accused the "I'm Your Man" and "Hallelujah" singer of tax evasion, perjury and drug abuse.
Lynch's attorneys made an issue during the trial of Cohen's acknowledgement that he'd had a sexual relationship with his former business manager but hadn't disclosed it during a pretrial hearing. He described it as a "brief intimate relationship" but said it wasn't romantic, and said he stopped considering her a friend after learning millions of dollars had disappeared while she was his manager.
Defense attorney Nikhil Ramnaney argued most of the emails were short, but the prosecutor had printed out multiple versions to make them appear more voluminous. He also argued that some of the more disturbing messages left by Lynch came before February 2011, when Cohen's attorney informed her that a permanent restraining order in Colorado was being registered in California.
Ramnaney said Lynch had lost everything and was voicing her frustration toward Cohen in the messages. "She lost her job," the deputy public defender argued. "She lost her career. She lost her child.
"Her cries for help and these emails, these were not criminal conduct," Ramnaney said, adding that Lynch, 55, never attended any of Cohen's shows or went to his home.
Ramnaney did not return a voicemail message seeking comment on the verdict later Thursday.
Cohen said he alerted authorities and pursued a case against her because he felt he was in danger.
"I was not willing to take the risk, the risk that someone who leaves me messages that are deranged and violent is not going to turn up outside my house," he testified.
Cohen sued Lynch in 2005, claiming she took $5 million from his personal savings while he was living in a Buddhist monastery. He obtained a judgment against her and told jurors a forensic accounting proved she was taking money from him while she served as his manager.
Lynch was never charged in connection with the theft allegation.
Streeter said Lynch continuously called and wrote Cohen, accusing him of tax fraud and other wrongdoing, as revenge. "This is nothing more than the unraveling of a con," Streeter said.