Craig McLachlan drops defamation lawsuit against ABC, Fairfax and Christie Whelan Browne

Actor Craig McLachlan has cited his sanity and the pressures of the trial when he unexpectedly left a defamation lawsuit over sexual assault and harassment charges filed against him.

Following the shock, the former colleague who had sued McLachlan, Christie Whelan Browne, said Friday that she was significantly traumatized by her name being dragged through the mud.

“I have received multiple threats and constant abuse and it continues to this day,” Whelan Browne said in a statement.

McLachlan withdrew his lawsuit two weeks into the New South Wales Supreme Court trial and had to testify as witnesses in the case against him.

He had sued the ABC, Fairfax and Whelan Browne over January 2018 publications alleging he harassed female performers in the 2014 stage production of the film. Rocky Horror Show

His case ended on Thursday and the defense was set to begin on Friday.

But acting judge Carolyn Simpson instead fired the jury after being told the actor was not going ahead with the case.

The award-winning performer was accused of touching, kissing and groping actors without permission in the stage productions Rocky Horror, Neighbours, City Homicide and the Doctor Blake Mysteries.

In his evidence, he agreed that he brought sexual jokes and jokes to the Rocky Horror Show, including deepthroating bananas, pretending to masturbate, kissing, and grabbing the arms of crew members.

His lawyer spoke about the “comradeship” in the show and how actors dealt with stress differently than in other workplaces. The actor denied the allegations in the publications.

McLachlan and his partner, who attended every day of the trial, were not present in court when his case was dropped.

But in a statement, he later said the pressure the case had placed on him and his family had been extremely overwhelming.

“I can’t keep putting my family under that pressure, and my own mental health won’t withstand the continued pressure,” he said.

“Finishing the case now will finally end the four years we’ve endured since the publications were first made, and prevent other witnesses from having to go through the cross-examination process.”

In her statement, Whelan Browne said she and other women came forward so that others wouldn’t have to endure the same behavior as they did in the 2014 production.

“I was then singled out and charged with defamation,” she said.

“My name was dragged through the mud and my character and behavior were exaggerated and questioned. I thought this kind of shame was a thing of the past, but I was wrong.

“The past four and a half years have traumatized me and the other brave women who spoke out then and after.”

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At the trial, McLachlan’s partner, Vanessa Scammell, testified that her husband was “sucker-struck” by the articles and became a recluse who was afraid to answer the phone and surf at night so as not to be seen.

His lawyer said the case was about a “double attack on him by two powerful media organizations”.

The outlets had defended the claims on the basis of truth.

Their attorney told the jury that 11 women were expected to accuse McLachlan of misconduct on the Rocky Horror production and other television and theater shows.

In 2020, a Melbourne magistrate acquitted McLachlan of indecently assaulting women on the Rocky Horror Show, but described the actor as an unimpressive witness.

He was acquitted of seven charges of indecent assault and six of common-law assault against four women during a performance of the musical in Australia.

The magistrate described McLachlan’s prosecutors as brave and fair, but it wasn’t enough to prove the incidents amounted to sexual assault.

In his statement on Friday, McLachlan referred to acquittal in the criminal trial.

“I look forward to restoring my health and spending more time with friends and family who have supported me through this process,” he said.

  • ln Australia, the crisis support lifeline is 13 11 14. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123

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