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Friday, April 20, 2012

Leonard Cohen's poetic thanks as former manager and lover is jailed for harassment

As befits a man regarded as perhaps the most lyrical voice in contemporary popular music, the witness statement read to a Los Angeles court by Leonard Cohen was unusually poetic in its phrasing.

"I want to thank the court, in the person of your honour," Cohen told an LA county superior court judge, "for the cordial, even-handed and elegant manner in which these proceedings have unfolded. It was a privilege and an education to testify in this courtroom."
However dignified his prose and the proceedings, however, Cohen's testimony marked the end of a long and decidedly ugly episode in the 77-year-old singer's life, which has culminated in the jailing of his former manager for harassment.
Kelley Lynch, 55, was sentenced to 18 months in a Californian prison and five years probation for what the sentencing judge, Robert C Vanderet, called a "long, unrelenting barrage of harassing behaviour" towards Cohen, that the singer said had made him fear for his life.

Cohen sued Lynch in 2005, a year after he had dismissed her as his manager, claiming she had stolen $5m (£3.1m) from his personal accounts and investments and left him virtually penniless. The court found in his favour and ordered Lynch to pay him $9.5m, but her lawyers claimed she was unreachable, and she has never repaid the money or faced criminal charges.

The theft prompted the hard-up Cohen to begin touring again after five years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in California. Marathon tours of Europe, north America and Australasia met with ecstatic reviews and were enormously popular, going no small distance to repair the hole in his retirement fund. Billboard magazine reported that the 2009 world tour alone had earned Cohen $9.5m.
Many feared his monastic retreat had signalled the end of his recording career; in fact, being "forced to go back on the road to repair the fortunes of my family and myself", hetold the New York Times recently, was "a most fortunate happenstance because I was able to connect… with living musicians. And I think it warmed some part of my heart that had taken on a chill."

Cohen has spoken of late of an increasing preoccupation with mortality, but judging from his delicately waspish statement to the court, he has lost little of that fire. "I want to thank the defendant Ms Kelley Lynch for insisting on a jury trial, thus... allowing the court to observe her profoundly unwholesome, obscene and relentless strategies to escape the consequences of her wrongdoing," he said.

"It is my prayer that Ms Lynch will take refuge in the wisdom of her religion, that a spirit of understanding will convert her heart from hatred to remorse, from anger to kindness, from the deadly intoxication of revenge to the lowly practices of self-reform."

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