Given her understanding of science recently extended to blaming an earthquake that killed 80,000 people on "karma", it is perhaps unsurprising that Sharon Stone should have a shaky understanding of modern medicine.
Even so, bizarre news that Stone once suggested curing her eight-year-old son's smelly feet by having Botox injections administered is fuelling widespread concern about personal judgement of the veteran actress, and the wellbeing of her collection of adopted children. In an extraordinary custody ruling published yesterday by the Superior Court of San Francisco, Stone, 50, is portrayed as an alternately neglectful and neurotic mother who "overreacts to many medical issues" and is unsuitable to be a full-time parent to her eldest son, Roan.
The damning 27-page document, which has been devoured by the Hollywood press corps, explained the court's decision to reject an application by Stone to receive full-time custody of the child, whose father is her third husband, Philip Bronstein, a former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to its author, Judge Anne-Christine Massull, the famously high-maintenance star has repeatedly subjected her "basically healthy" son to a series of unnecessary, expensive and potentially-damaging medical procedures. Her tendency to "overreact" to everyday problems has aggravated Roan's minor learning difficulties and psychological problems, claimed the headline-grabbing report.
By way of evidence, Judge Massull highlighted an incident in which Stone suggested that: "Roan should have Botox injections in his feet to resolve a problem he had with foot odour."
"As [Mr Bronstein] appropriately noted, the simple and common sense approach of making sure Roan wore socks with his shoes and used foot deodorant corrected the odour problem without the need for any invasive procedure on this young child."
Judge Massull also revealed that Stone recently decided her son was suffering a "spinal condition" when in fact he had a mild case of constipation, and criticised her for repeatedly neglecting to share critical medical information with Mr Bronstein: "including the names and professional backgrounds of professionals treating Roan, or the fact Roan is being treated."
In a break from legal protocol, which most usually awards custody to a mother following divorce, Judge Massull concluded that Mr Bronstein, from whom she separated in 2004, should be made permanently responsible for Roan's upbringing.
The ruling represents a personal setback for Stone, and the detailed contents will do little to enhance either her reputation or career prospects. Judge Massull repeatedly suggests the actress, who is best known for the film Basic Instinct, has sacrificed her son's wellbeing for her career. For the first four years of his life, "much of Roan's care was delegated to a series of full time (24 hour) nannies," according to the report. "Because [Stone] spent a great deal of time away due to the demands of her career, her day-to-day involvement with Roan was limited."
In more recent years, Stone has had "little involvement in Roan's education at Martin Primary," the San Francisco school where he is being educated. "She is only marginally involved in his extracurricular activities and has involved herself very little in co-ordinating efforts to get Roan the help he needs." The Golden Globe-winning star is also criticised for "delegating her parenting responsibilities" to third parties. "While this court in no way faults [her] for having to travel for her career, she is unavailable for Roan on a constant basis," notes the report, concluding she is: "unable to provide the structure, continuity and reliability that Roan needs, and candidly, deserves."
Although tales of neglectful parenting are legion in Hollywood, Stone's failed attempt to secure custody of her child may spark renewed public debate about the welfare of celebrity children. Details of the judgment were being aired on showbusiness websites and TV shows across America, with audiences reacting with disbelief to revelations regarding her attitude to motherhood.
Particularly damaging, aside from the Botox incident, were revelations concerning Stone's "lost opportunities for involvement in her son's education and therapeutic endeavours are abundant".
The report makes the scathing allegation that she has repeatedly failed (against the advice of Roan's teachers) to attend parents evenings, and one occasion "due to a scheduling conflict" requested that a critical meeting between a selection of her son's doctors be videotaped, so "she could review it later".
Stone has for some time been known as one of the more volatile figures in Hollywood, and has a reputation for generating controversy with outspoken public comments. In recent years, she has sparked debate about sexual equality by commenting: "women might be able to fake orgasms but men can fake whole relationships".
Feet, a sore point for the Stones
Until this week, Phil Bronstein's chief claim to fame surrounded a bizarre incident that took place in the Komodo dragon enclosure of Los Angeles Zoo, writes Guy Adams.
During a private tour in June 2001, Stone attempted to take a photograph of Bronstein posing with his foot provocatively situated near to the head of one of the rare reptiles.
The dragon's jaw swiftly clamped shut over Bronstein's big toe. Although he was eventually able to escape, he spent five days in hospital recovering from the bite and having his foot rebuilt.
Bronstein – editor of the San Francisco Chronicle until earlier this year – has been portrayed as a caring parent during the custody proceedings. However commentators have joked that the men in Stone's life have a nasty habit of coming to grief by way of their feet.
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