The trial against actor Craig McLachlan finally commenced in Melbourne yesterday.
It has been nearly three years since allegations were first brought against him, linked to a 2014 run of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. McLachlan faces seven charges of indecent assault and six of common law assault. Three charges, two of indecent assault and one of common assault, were previously withdrawn.
None of the charges relate to The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Among the allegations against McLachlan is a claim he traced his finger around the outline of an actress’s vagina during the performance of a ‘bedroom’ scene.
He also allegedly kissed and forced his tongue into the mouth of a co-star when it was not in the scene.
That woman said she later told McLachlan “don’t you ever do that to me again”. He allegedly replied “you are nothing. I will end you.”
He is accused of kissing a co-star’s neck, breasts, stomach and buttocks on at least 20 occasions during performances when it wasn’t part of the scene.
McLachlan, who vehemently denies the charges, appeared via video link from Sydney yesterday, from the chambers of his barrister, Stuart Littlemore QC, in Sydney.
McLachlan told the Melbourne magistrates court he was “stunned and flabbergasted” to learn of the allegations against him. He said one of his accusers used to come into his dressing room uninvited and often in a “state of undress”.
“She was always relaxed and playful,” he said.
“In our interactions she would be verbally affectionate, certainly physically affectionate – hugs, playful punches, flicks to my bottom, and she liked to call me names. She would come in (to the dressing room) and sit on my lap to tell a story or a joke. Usually, she would be in a state of undress – just knickers and a bra.”
He claimed another woman said he had a “perky bubble butt” during a dress rehearsal. McLachlan claimed she said: “Hey mister, that’s a great arse” and “Keep squatting babe, it’s working for you.”
He said while he kissed some of his fellow performers it was never sexual in “ambition or intention”. “Kissing is de rigueur – it is commonplace,” he said. “It’s what we do; it’s what we’ve always done.
McLachlan told the court “horseplay” or “jokey pranks” were frequent backstage between members of the cast.
“Almost daily” he would tell male and female members of the production they were “the secret love of my life”.
He said he and another complainant expressed their love for each other, but they did not mean it in a romantic way.
He described her as an “enthusiastic participant” in practical jokes like “wedgies” and “dacking” and the most vulgar person he had ever met.
“She is without doubt the most vulgar woman I know,” he said.
McLachlan, who enjoys fervent support from global fanbase The Blake Army, has also suspended separate legal proceedings against Nine (formerly Fairfax) newspapers and the ABC, former broadcaster of Doctor Blake.