THE SEX PESTS’ $60,000 REPUTATION REHAB
Horse-hugging sessions. Teddy bear therapy. And NO tight swimming trunks. That’s life inside the clinic for shamed stars. No wonder one expert says it is just PR hokum
BLACKED-out limos swish silently through the imposing stone gates and up the winding, mile-long drive that meanders through the pristine, cacti-dotted Sonoran Desert. The still air is broken only by the gentle sound of splashing from one of the magnificent ornamental marble fountains dotted around the manicured 14acre grounds.
At reception, a smiling team is on hand to welcome travellers with a cool drink before they are whisked away to individual hacienda-style lodges complete with sunken granite baths.
Guests can enjoy an Olympicsize pool, state-of-the-art gym, private t’ai chi, yoga and riding lessons and ‘New Age-y’ pursuits such as walking through a stone ‘Serenity Circle’ at sunrise.
Welcome to The Meadows, a £28,000-a-month Arizona rehab clinic that feels like a five-star hotel but instead has become the ‘go-to’ place for stars in crisis.
This is where alleged serial sexual predators Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have come – in both cases reportedly flying in by private jet to a
‘There’s no proof any of this hokum works’
nearby airport. The Meadows has a reputation as the world’s leading facility to treat sex addiction – a condition derided as ‘pseudo science’ by critics. It isn’t recognised as a legitimate psychiatric condition in the UK or US.
‘It’s not a real disorder and there’s no proof any of this hokum works,’ says internationally renowned psychologist Dr David Ley, an addictions specialist. ‘Sex addiction has become big business because predominantly white, rich men put their penises where they shouldn’t put them and then are desperate to seek some sort of solution, whether for PR reasons, to placate their wives or save their jobs.’
Disgraced studio boss Weinstein and double Oscar-winner Spacey are not the first high-profile men who, either voluntarily or urged on by their highpowered PR and legal teams, hope a stint in The Meadows will help restore their image.
It was here that Tiger Woods fled after being exposed as a serial philanderer with a penchant for Las Vegas cocktail waitresses, as did X Files star David Duchovny and Fatal Attraction’s Michael Douglas.
Others who have sought treatment at The Meadows include pop star Robbie Williams (alcoholism) and the late Tara PalmerTomkinson (drugs and alcohol).
But it is the treatment of philandering men that turned The Meadows into a money-spinning machine. While the facility guards its own privacy as vehemently as the identity of its superstar patients – repeated requests from The Mail on Sunday for comment went unanswered last week – it was bought in 2016 by private equity firm Kohlberg & Co in a deal reported worth $180 million (£137 million).
It is home to what it calls ‘the nation’s premier inpatient treatment for sex addiction’, a 45-day, men-only programme titled The Gentle Path. It uses a mixture of group therapy, one-on-one counselling sessions, yoga, art classes and equine therapy.
The Meadows’ website proclaims: ‘In a safe and nurturing community composed of their peers, men are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of sexual addiction.’
Wealthy Californian businessman Ralph Paglia, 61, was treated for sex addiction at the facility in 2013, and says while it is cushy, celebrities still struggle with the rules. These include limited access to mobile phones and computers (just 15 minutes a day, under strict supervision), a sugar-free diet and an anti-smoking policy.
‘I saw many celebrities in my time there and most didn’t last until the end,’ says Paglia. ‘They’re too used to being pampered. I’d put money on Spacey and Weinstein dropping out.’
Indeed, Weinstein has already been spotted at a nearby £500a-night luxury hotel and eating ‘off-site’ at a steak restaurant.
Last night a spokesman confirmed that Weinstein is still being treated but declined to comment further.
For a man infamous for scream-
ing at his minions and flying around the globe in a private jet, life at The Meadows for Weinstein must seem interminably dull and rather like that hit movie he didn’t make – Groundhog Day.
Each day starts at 6.15am with an hour of exercise; private t’ai chi and yoga lessons are held outside before the brutal Arizona sun flares up, followed by breakfast in the communal dining hall cooked by a team of private chefs.
Meals are mostly plant-based. Processed white sugar and caffeine are banned as addictive, and chocolate and sweets are confiscated on check-in. Typical breakfast offerings include a range of gluten-free breads, egg whites, fresh fruit, home-made yogurt and smoothies.
‘The food is plentiful because they don’t want people dealing with hunger issues along with everything else,’ Paglia explains. Patients wear colour-coded tags in plastic badges pinned to their shirts. ‘When you wear the red tag of a sex addict you are not supposed to have any female contact,’ says Paglia. ‘They have physicians, psychiatrists and nurses watching you but also monitors who act like security guards, watching your every move.’
There is a strict dress code, even for patients not in the sex-addicts programme. Women are banned from wearing revealing clothes such as bikinis. Trousers that are too tight will result in a staff member sending the woman back to her room to change into something ‘less tempting’ to the sex addicts. Men are banned from wearing tight swimming trunks.
Therapy begins at 9am, with a group session lasting anything from one to two hours in which residents are encouraged to stand up and announce: ‘Hi, I’m “X” and I’m a sex addict.’
Group therapy is followed by a one-on-one session with a private shrink before breaking for lunch at about noon.
Patients are encouraged to carry stuffed teddy bears around as part of sex therapy to get in touch with their ‘inner child’.
While residents can check out at any time, The Meadows does not give refunds. ‘The only time you are allowed to leave the property is on Sunday to go to church or a temple. A lot of people sign up for that just to get a change of scenery,’ Paglia admits.
During the first week of treatment, known as Orientation Week, patients are monitored around the clock by a team of nurses who take vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature), as many sex addicts are also dealing with drug and alcohol issues. ‘A lot of people are detoxing,’ says Paglia. ‘They want to make sure you are healthy enough to carry on.’
He says that while the private bedrooms have granite bathtubs, they are more spartan than the average hotel room. ‘There is no TV or radio – just a small desk and a reading lamp. There’s definitely no mini-bar.’
Patients line up twice a day for medications. ‘There are two windows where they dispense medi- cations and there were always long lines,’ he says. ‘You had to take your meds there and then and they watched to make sure you swallowed them.’
Afternoons are filled with less conventional therapies, typically lasting an hour to 90 minutes.
One features a Staff Of Knowledge, a wooden staff borrowed from Native American tradition – it is passed around during group sessions to denote who wishes to speak next.
Afternoon classes include equine therapy with native mustang horses (you are encouraged to hug the horses), acupuncture, yoga and more counselling from outside experts brought in to lecture on a range of topics from drugs to childhood abuse.
There is also regressional hypnosis, where men recall childhood traumas. Art therapy encourages them to paint a history of their sexual encounters.
While the very notion of sex addiction is debunked elsewhere, The Meadows’ literature brands it a legitimate mental illness.
‘Sex addiction is clearly an illness with a definite set of symptoms and it is treatable,’ the brochure states. ‘Contrary to love, this obsessional illness transforms sex into the primary need for which all else may be sacrificed including family, friends, values, health, safety and work.’
But addictions expert Dr Ley called the theory ‘pseudo science’. He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This has become the fashionable excuse of the day. I’ve toured The Meadows – it’s a beautiful, high-end facility. They charge a fortune to give a mish-mash of therapies. It is exploitative. None of it is scientifically proven so insurance companies won’t pay.
‘Places like The Meadows make a very lucrative living from tapping into a market of people who are desperate.’
Dinner is at 6pm followed by more group therapy meetings until 8.30pm. Then there is 90 minutes of free time – to read, do homework, relax in your granite bath – before the lights go off at 10pm.
The final week of treatment is Family Week, when wives and families are encouraged to visit and join in therapy sessions.
For Paglia, the experience was helpful but expensive. ‘I’d happily go back again – if somebody else would pick up the bill,’ he said.
For Weinstein and Spacey, the $60,000 (£45,000) bill for their 45-day rehab is a drop in the ocean. But it remains to be seen whether the controversial treatment actually works or is merely a fig leaf covering a greater ill.
Police in New York have already announced they are preparing to press charges against Weinstein for sexual assault and rape – charges that could be brought as early as next week. If convicted, he may eventually find himself languishing in far less salubrious surroundings than The Meadows.
Women cannot wear revealing clothes ‘I’d happily go back – if somebody else paid’
deSeRt ReFUge: Harvey weinstein, left, and Kevin Spacey are being treated at the Meadows