Former Neighbours actor Craig McLachlan has been cleared of allegations that he assaulted four women during a stage show.
The 55-year-old star was found not guilty of all 13 charges during a hearing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The seven indecent assault charges and six common assault charges dated back to 2014 when McLachlan starred in the Rocky Horror Show in Melbourne.
The complainants in the case were four women.
McLachlan, who played the lead role of Frank-N-Furter in the show, has consistently denied the allegations.
Image: Craig McLachlan starred as Frank-N-Furter in the Rocky Horror Show
He told the court in November that he often hugged and kissed his fellow performers, which he deemed “commonplace” in showbusiness.
Delivering her judgement, Magistrate Belinda Wallington said while she accepted some of the complainants’ evidence, it could not prove the charges.
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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.”
Magistrate Wallington wanted it known that the four women “were brave and honest witnesses”.
The trial heard that one of the women accused the actor of kissing her without consent.
Another gave evidence he had pressed his genitals against her during a “full-bodied hug”.
Magistrate Wallington said another accuser told the court that McLachlan had touched her genitals on stage.
The actor was also accused of inappropriately tickling the inner-thigh of a woman on stage.
He did not appear in person for Tuesday’s decision and remained in Sydney.
Following the verdict, an emotional McLachlan said he and his partner Vanessa Scammell would have more to say in the new year.
He said: “As you can imagine, we have a lot to say.
“We’ve maintained a dignified and respectful silence for the past almost three years and put our trust in the law. And here we are today.”
He added: “But for now, Christmas is upon us, go and enjoy Christmas with your families – we’re going to this year. Stay safe, be kind to each other. We’ll see you in the new year.”
McLachlan, who has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years, gave evidence that he had always been “energised and enthusiastic and over the top in the workplace”.
He told the court last month he was “stunned and flabbergasted” over the allegations made against him, saying any inappropriate touching “could have only been accidental”.
He was cast as Henry Ramsay in Australian television soap opera Neighbours, the brother of Kylie Minogue’s character Charlene, appearing in more than 800 episodes and winning the Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Actor in 1990.
Source : Sky News