Restraining Order Issued Against Stan Lee’s Gatekeeper
A court in Los Angeles issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday against a man who has claimed to be a caregiver for Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, court documents and a lawyer for Lee said.Posted — Updated
A court in Los Angeles issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday against a man who has claimed to be a caregiver for Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, court documents and a lawyer for Lee said.
The court order came just two days after the Los Angeles police say they arrested the man, Keya Morgan, and booked him into jail on a warrant charging him with filing a false report in connection with Lee, 95. Morgan was released on bond, according to court documents.
The developments mark the latest bizarre turn in the strange mix of tragedy and scandal that have engulfed Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men and Black Panther, since the death of his wife, Joan Lee, in July.
In court documents, Tom Lallas, a lawyer who said he had agreed to act as “guardian ad litem” for Lee, said Lee suffered from hearing, vision and memory impairments and was unable to “resist undue influence.” He said Lee’s estate was worth more than $50 million, making him vulnerable to financial predators.
Morgan, Lallas alleges in court documents, is “a memorabilia collector who inserted himself into Mr. Lee’s life as his caregiver” after the passing of Lee’s wife. “Petitioner, along with law enforcement and Adult Protective Services, believes that Mr. Morgan is unduly influencing Mr. Lee and isolating him.”
Attempts to contact Morgan, 42, on Wednesday were unsuccessful. But the celebrity news website TMZ quoted him as saying: “I have taken great care of Stan Lee for the past many years, and have never had a problem directly with Stan. I have a fantastic relationship with him for the past many years, as he has stated countless times on the record, and I literally saved his life once.”
He added: “I will 100 percent prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the allegations against me are false. And I will definitely take legal action against anyone who is making up these lies. The truth will come out.”
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Josh Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, confirmed Morgan’s arrest Monday and said the investigation was continuing. He declined to elaborate, but noted that the police were not conducting an elder abuse investigation related to Lee.
In a probable cause arrest warrant and police documents, a Los Angeles police detective said he, along with another detective and a Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services social worker, went to perform a welfare check on Lee on May 30.
When they arrived at his home, they told security personnel to refuse entry to anyone who called on Lee during the interview, the documents said. Soon after that, Morgan arrived and was refused entry, after being told by a security guard that detectives and the social worker were inside.
Morgan then called 911 and reported that three “unidentified” people had gone into Lee’s home and “locked everyone out,” according to a transcript of the 911 call.
“I’m very, very scared they’re harming him,” he said, according to the transcript.
“It’s an emergency,” he added later. “If you could please send someone immediately.”
In his report, the police detective said Morgan appeared to have withheld information about who was inside to the 911 operator. The detective also said he had interviewed Lee twice this year and that Lee has shown that he can be “influenced” by Morgan. During interviews, Lee “acknowledged how Morgan has helped him but would forget Morgan’s name when speaking of him,” the detective wrote.
No one at Los Angeles County’s agency for aging and adult services answered the phone Wednesday night, and it was not possible to leave a message.
Not long after the first call, police documents and 911 call transcripts said, Morgan called 911 again, this time telling an operator that there was a “very threatening” and “aggressive” man with a gun at Lee’s home, whom Morgan wished removed. The detective wrote that the call was made to try to remove a security guard who had refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement that Morgan had prepared.
The call prompted at least eight police units and a helicopter to respond, police documents said. The security guard was released from custody after the police found no evidence of a crime.
The temporary restraining order — which bars Morgan from abusing, harassing or contacting Lee, and requires that he stay at least 100 yards away from him — was granted and signed Wednesday and is set to expire at the end of a court hearing scheduled for July 6.
Over the past year, rumors about Lee and the behavior of those around him have swirled. Suspicions have emerged that millions of dollars have been siphoned from his accounts, as have reports that a former business associate stole his blood to sell to fans.
Then, in April, The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation that said that Lee had been the victim of “elder abuse.” A radio talk show in Orlando, Florida, even broadcast a rumor that he was being “held captive” by handlers who “have him basically locked up in the house.”
But on a recent visit to Lee’s home, Lee told The New York Times otherwise.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Lee said. “Nobody has more freedom.”
The story noted that Morgan was Lee’s “current gatekeeper,” who had ousted former staff members. He sat at Lee’s side during the interview.
Copyright 2024 New York Times News Service. All rights reserved.