Craig McLachlan, Prominent Australian Actor, Faces Indecent Assault Charges

SYDNEY, Australia — One of Australia’s most distinguished tv and musical performers, Craig McLachlan, has been charged with assault and eight counts of indecent assault regarding occasions reaching again to 2014 — a possible breakthrough for the media firms he has sued for defamation, and for the nation’s nascent #MeToo motion.

Mr. McLachlan, 53, a well-known face in Australia for starring roles in TV favorites like “Neighbours” and “Home and Away,” has been charged by the Victoria Police for indecent acts stated to have occurred in Melbourne across the similar time as his now-scrutinized efficiency in a stage model of “The Rocky Horror Show.”

His interactions with girls throughout that present’s run on the Comedy Theater in Melbourne had been the topic of an investigative report from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and ABC, Australia’s public broadcaster, revealing that a number of feminine co-stars accused him of indecent and inappropriate habits.

Australia’s secretive judicial system — its strict privateness legal guidelines and restrictions on the sharing of details about particular person instances — make it unattainable to declare that the prison prices instantly relate to the “Rocky Horror Show” allegations.

The police declined to share details about the specifics of the alleged assaults. A spokesman for Mr. McLachlan stated: “Craig is harmless of those prices which can be vigorously defended.”

Legal specialists, nevertheless, stated the fees threaten to undermine Mr. McLachlan’s defamation declare whereas highlighting the convoluted nature of Australia’s authorized system relating to sexual assault instances.

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Defamation regulation in Australia strongly favors the plaintiff, and it’s broadly blamed for making it tougher to confront the issue of sexual harassment.

The highly effective males who find yourself accused are likely to sue and the prices may be immense, not simply to media firms but additionally to those that lodge the accusations.

Mr. McLachlan is presently suing Fairfax Media and ABC, in addition to an actress, Christie Whelan Browne, for six.5 million Australian , about $four.7 million, in damages.

[Read about how Geoffrey Rush’s defamation case has led to a #MeToo reckoning.]

Still, Mr. McLachlan now appears extra weak partially, media attorneys say, as a result of the choose in Mr. McLachlan’s case has allowed for a uncommon protection of “contextual reality.”

According to the choose’s December determination, the media firms are in a position to defend their reporting on the trial (which begins Feb. four within the New South Wales Supreme Court) by arguing that Mr. McLachlan is “a sexual predator in that he has indecently assaulted and sexually harassed feminine colleagues within the office.”

The prison prices within the state of Victoria are nonetheless unproven, however whether or not they relate to the “Rocky Horror Show” allegations, attorneys say, they might bolster the media’s protection.

The defamation trial could possibly be postponed to let the prison case play out. Or particulars from the prison prices may develop into a part of the civil defamation trial in a method or one other.

“There’s a little bit of room to run however it appears fairly important,” stated Daniel Joyce, a senior regulation lecturer on the University of New South Wales who focuses on free speech points. “It may actually strengthen the media’s contextual reality protection.”

For Mr. McLachlan, at the least, it appears to imply extra time within the highlight.

Four days after the defamation trial begins on Feb. four, he’s scheduled to seem in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, to face 10 prices introduced by the Melbourne Sexual Offenses and Child Abuse Investigation Team: one cost of assault, eight prices of indecent assault, and one depend of tried indecent assault.

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