A U.S. court has convicted Leonard Cohen's former manager for harassing the Canadian singer-songwriting legend.
On Thursday, a Los Angeles County court found Kelley Lynch, 55, guilty of violating restraining orders to prevent her from contacting Cohen, making harassing phone calls and sending thousands of harassing emails to him.
She had initially entered a plea of not guilty to five counts of violating protective orders and two counts of repeatedly contacting Cohen with the intent to annoy or harass.
Nikhil A. Ramnaney, Lynch's lawyer, had argued that her missives were "cries for help, not criminal conduct."
Lynch faces up to five years in jail and is expected to appear at a sentencing hearing next week.
The 77-year-old troubadour testified against Lynch and said she began a campaign of harassing, expletive-strewn and hostile telephone calls, voice and email messages after he dismissed her in 2004.
Cohen acknowledged that he had an intimate relationship with Lynch at one time. However, he told jurors he felt threatened by her post-dismissal calls and messages.
Prosecutors played voicemails and showed the court printed emails that contained obscenities, sexual references, accusations and threats against Cohen.
"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," Cohen said.
Lynch's attorney Ramnaney did not deny that the messages came from her, but pointed out other messages that contained legitimate requests for financial documents she required for tax purposes. Lynch had worked for Cohen for 17 years.
"They never gave her what she asked for. They kept stonewalling her and stonewalling her," Ramnaney said.
He also emphasized that though Lynch was angry Cohen had dismissed her and felt her reputation had been ruined, she never tried to confront him in person.
After Cohen fired Lynch as his personal and business manager, he filed a civil lawsuit against her in 2005, claiming she stole $5 million US from his personal accounts and investments. He won the lawsuit and a judge ordered Lynch to pay the music icon $9.5 million US, however she ignored the suit and its subpoena for her financial records.
So, in order replenish his finances and retirement savings, Cohen embarked on a host of projects, from publishing a new poetry collection (Book of Longing) and participating in the film Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man to playing world tours and producing new albums (his muse Anjani Thomas's Blue Alert as well as his own Old Ideas, Live in London and Songs From the Road).
A variety of groups has also stepped up to celebrate Cohen in recent years, crowning him with honours such as induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the National Order of Quebec, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Glenn Gould Prize and the Prince of Asturias Award.