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Irk of a ladies’ man: Leonard Cohen harassment trial continues

Leonard Cohen performs in Geneva in 2008.
Leonard Cohen performs in Geneva in 2008.

Legendary troubadour Leonard Cohen was first to take the stand in an ugly court battle with his former manager that has elements of thievery, harassment and failed romance.

On Friday, Cohen appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court as the prosecution’s first witness against his onetime business manager, 55-year-old Kelley Lynch. The trial resumes this week.

According to the LA Times, Cohen testified that he and Lynch were business associates for 17 years, and briefly lovers, but that he fired her in 2004 for losing $5 million of his money and leaving him broke. A judge ordered Lynch to pay Cohen $9.5 million following a separate trial in the mid-2000s, which she reportedly has refused to pay.

It was after firing her, Cohen testified, that the calls and emails from Lynch started pouring in. Lynch is also charged with ignoring several restraining orders filed against her.

“It started with just a few now and then, but it eventually accelerated to 20 or 30 a day,” the 77-year-old singer-songwriter told the court, according to the Times. The messages allegedly included death threats, rambling 10-minute phone recordings and 50-page emails. Samples of some of the messages -- such as the one where she reportedly says Cohen should be “taken down and shot” -- are being played or read aloud during the trial.

Lynch has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held at Century Regional Detention Facility.

Cohen has said the pilfering of his fortune occurred over several years while he was living as a monk in a Buddhist monastery outside of Los Angeles. The poverty he found himself in forced Cohen to launch a world tour in 2008 to refill his coffers -- as American Songwriter puts it, though the fans were delighted to have him back, “returning to the stage as a 74-year-old was a dark, desperate thing.”

Cohen is once again planning another world tour for sometime later this year.