NY Couple Seek $8m in Damages From Counselor Who Advised Husband to Have Affair

A couple, one half of which is actor Guido Venitucci -- who appeared in "The Royal Tenenbaums" -- is suing their relationship counsellor saying he nearly destroyed his marriage with his wacky attempts to save it, the New York Post reported Sunday.

The couple alleged that one piece of advice from Upper West Side couples counselor Jeffrey Mechanic was that Venitucci should take a lover because he wasn't being satisfied at home, according to lawsuits filed by the couple last week seeking a total of US$8 million in damages.

Venitucci, a TV star in Rome who moved to New York in the 1990s and appeared asa radio operator in the 2001 movie "The Royal Tenenbaums" alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, said he "caved in" and had an affair, which left his marriage on the verge of divorce.

Mechanic also belittled the actor's wife, Heather Aldridge, and called him a "p****y" for putting up with the marriage, Venitucci told The Post.

"He would tell me constantly that my wife was not capable of satisfying me," Venitucci said.

Venitucci, 44, and Aldridge, 39, salvaged their relationship, but they now want US$4 million each from Mechanic after paying him about $150,000, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn last week and an interview with Venitucci.

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 scoffed at the couple's accusations.

"They are absolutely frivolous," said attorney Charles Gayner. "We deny all the allegations. We are disappointed to see they are going this route."

His client is considering a countersuit, Gayner said.

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