Fred Newman, the aging guru for Lenora Fulani and other devotees of his Social Therapy cult, sent a long goodbye note last week to backers of his controversial youth program, the All Stars Project.
Newman, 70, said he was stepping down as executive producer of the group, and also giving up his post as artistic director of its Castillo Theatre which produces scores of Newman’s plays. He added that the state charities bureau under Attorney General Eliot Spitzer had decided not to pursue any action against All Stars as a result of a complaint filed last year by a California woman, Molly Hardy, who said she had witnessed abusive conduct towards children in the All Stars Project (“Bloomberg’s Therapist,” June 21, 2005).
The attorney general’s investigation was one of the reasons that city officials at the Department of Youth and Community Development put the brakes on a three-year $230,000 grant to All Stars approved by the Bloomberg administration last year.
In his letter, Newman, who won the contract after engineering the Independence Party’s backing for Mayor Bloomberg, said the AG’s letter had provided “a clean bill of health” for the controversial organization and said it put to rest the “many scurrilous media reports” about All Stars. “Now that that has been closed out we see no reason the [city’s] grant shouldn’t go forward,” All Stars attorney Harry Kresky told the Voice.
But not so fast. Youth department spokesman Michael Ognibene said no decision had been made as yet on the contract. “We are still in our responsibility determination, still conducting a review,” said Ognibene. The Attorney General’s investigation was “one of the items that our review considered.”
One city source said that despite Spitzer’s findings, the All Stars contract is not going forward. Ognibene declined comment but said a decision will be announced shortly. “I would be surprised and disappointed. All Stars has passed every test I would hope the city would fund it on the merits,” said Kresky.