Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Marriage therapists, or perhaps therapy-seeking couples, beware:
A young couple are suing their therapist for $8 million - insisting he almost destroyed their marriage by encouraging them to have affairs.
Guido Venitucci, a TV star in Rome who also appeared in The Royal Tenenbaums, and his wife Heather Aldridge-Venitucci are seeking $4 million each from New York couples' counselor Jeffrey Mechanic.
According to their lawsuit, Mechanic came up with a series of wacky tips that almost destroyed their marriage rather than helped strengthen it.
And most spectacularly, their legal papers insist the counsellor encouraged them to bed lovers because they were not being satisfied in the marriage.
Venitucci, who moved to New York in the 1990s, admits that he "caved in" and had an affair - and insists his therapist approved.
Venitucci claims Mechanic, a state-licensed social worker, was determined to get him and other men in a group session to play around with women outside their marriages.
'For 10 years, I was faithful. Then I just caved in and had an affair, and he said there was nothing wrong with that,' Venitucci said.
He said the affair left them "on the verge of divorce" - and they only managed to salvage their marriage by dumping the counsellor and going against everything he said.
Venitucci, 44, and his 39-year-old wife say they paid Mechanic $150,000 for his services.
The couple's suit accuses Mechanic of "manipulating the emotions of Venitucci in order to gain control over him" during their $300 weekly sessions between 1997 and 2008.
Mechanic's lawyer Charles Gayner rubbished the couple's accusations as "absolutely frivolous", adding: 'We deny all the allegations. We are disappointed to see they are going this route.'
However another patient said she had similar problems - and called Mechanic a "predator".
Blair French, 38, a lifestyle guru, said Mechanic regularly urged her to detail her sexual fantasies and shocked her with unprofessional comments.
Read the full story here.