Australian actor, Craig McLachlan is reported to have been cleared of all indecent assault charges. The ‘Neighbours’ actor was found not guilty of the allegations by a court.
The actor was accused by four women of misconduct and faced seven charges of indecent assault and six of common assault, all of which he denied.
According to the report by Deadline, delivering her verdict on Tuesday (December 15), Magistrate Belinda Wallington praised the accusers for being “brave and honest witnesses” but decreed that their testimony was not enough to prove intent on the part of Craig McLachlan.
The charges stemmed from the actor’s time in the cast of a 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show, in which he played the lead role Frank-N-Furter. Accusations included that he inappropriately touched a woman on several occasions and kissed another without consent.
McLachlan claimed his behavior was standard practice on stage and said any inappropriate touching was “accidental”.
While delivering her judgment, Magistrate Belinda Wallington said Mr McLachlan had been accused by one of the women, known as CA, of kissing her without consent.
She said another, CB, gave evidence that he had pressed his genitals against her during a “full-bodied hug”.
Another accuser told the court Mr McLachlan had touched her genitals on stage, Magistrate Wallington said.
While Magistrate Wallington said she accepted some of the complainants’ evidence, she said it did not meet the high criminal standards required to prove the charges.
“The four complainants were brave and honest witnesses,” she said.
“I was not persuaded that there was evidence of collusion between the complainants. I was not persuaded that there was evidence of motive or that the complaints were made for reasons for career ambition or for any other such reason.”
During one of the alleged incidents, Magistrate Wallington said Mr McLachlan was accused of inappropriately tickling the inner-thigh of a woman on stage, known as CC.
“I’m unable to exclude the possibility that an egotistical, self-entitled sense of humour led the accused to genuinely think that … CC was consenting to his actions,” she said.
Magistrate Wallington said the “result may have been different” if current consent laws were applied in this case.
“The law requires me to apply the law as it stood at the time of the alleged offending,” she said.
She said that required her to “apply a subjective test as to the accused’s belief as to whether a complainant consented to sexual touching”.
But Magistrate Wallington said consent laws had changed since the time of the alleged assaults.
“The law on consent has been replaced with a more objective test: Was the accused’s belief reasonable?” she explained.
“Were the current law applicable, it is possible the result may have been different.”
Magistrate Wallington said her full findings were 105 pages long and would be released to the parties and media later on Tuesday.
Speaking in Sydney after the verdict was handed down, an emotional Mr McLachlan said he and his partner Vanessa Scammell would have more to say in the new year.
“As you can imagine, we have a lot to say,” he said.