Craig McLachlan Case Judge Calls Out ‘Troubling’ Defence And Questions About Accusers’ Clothes

Craig McLachlan

The magistrate presiding over the Craig McLachlan sexual assault case has criticised the way McLachlan’s lawyers cross-examined his accusers, calling their line of questioning “outdated” and “troubling”.

McLachlan, star of The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Neighbours, faced seven charges of idecent assault and six of common assault. He was found not guilty of all 13 charges on Tuesday.

He was accused of inappropriate behaviour on and off stage by four women, while starring as Frank-N-Furter in the Melbourne production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014. The allegations against him include that he kissed one woman without consent and touched another woman’s genitals while she was on stage.

The ABC reports that Magistrate Belinda Wallington had called out defence lawyer Stuart Littlemore for asking the complainants “inappropriate” questions, including about the “length of the average labia” and whether a complainant was “proud of her figure.”

She said that some questions played upon “troubling and outdated stereotypes of sexual assault victims.” She referred to instances where the defence “called into question the reputations of the complainants, sexual or otherwise, the poses they struck in photographs on social media, or their appearance, or what they were wearing.”

“Times have changed,” Wallington said.

Wallington described the women who accused Craig McLachlan as “brave and honest witnesses,” saying she accepted their evidence, but that it did not meet the high burden of proof for the charges.

“I was not persuaded that there was evidence of collusion between the complainants,” she said. “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.”

She added that the outcome may have been different if she had been able to take into account current laws about consent, but that she needed to assess the matter in terms of the law at the time of the alleged offence in 2014.

In Victoria, consent is defined as “free agreement.” While in 2014 the law required establishing that the accused believed the complainant had consented, now it is necessary to ascertain whether that belief was “reasonable.”

Craig McLachlan contended throughout the case that any inappropriate touching on his part was accidental. He said “horseplay” and “pranks” between the cast regularly occurred backstage and that hugging and kissing other performers was “commonplace.”

He launched defamation proceedings against ABC, Fairfax and an actor about the initial investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct in 2018. They were placed on hold when he was charged by Victoria Police, and his lawyer confirmed they would resume now McLachlan has been acquitted.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.