Craig McLachlan admits in court to kissing actor who later accused him of sexual harassment

Actor Craig McLachlan has told a court in Sydney that backstage at a theater production in 2014 he kissed an actor who has since accused him of sexual harassment.

McLachlan made the admission during cross-examination in his libel suit against the ABC and Fairfax Media over articles published in 2018.

The stories contained allegations that he assaulted, bullied and exposed female cast members during The Rocky Horror Show’s 2014 tour.

McLachlan is also suing actor Christie Whelan Browne who made the allegations on the ABC’s 7:30 show and the Sydney Morning Herald, now owned by Nine Entertainment Co.

He has so far denied all allegations in court, but today when questioned by the media organisation’s lawyer, Michael Hodge QC, he admitted to kissing actress Erika Heynatz in her dressing room before a performance in Melbourne.

He said he had been in his own dressing room with longtime partner Vanessa Scammell before telling her he was going to “check on Erika”.

He said he knocked on Heynatz’s door, she told him to come in and he then told her to “look at me”.

“She did and I kissed her.”

“I said words like ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’…I turned on my heels…and said ‘I think I might be falling in love of you’.”

Earlier today, McLachlan broke down on the stand and revealed he was admitted to a mental health facility after the stories were published.

McLachlan, who enjoyed a long and successful acting career in Australia, told the court that the reporting damaged his reputation and caused him so much social anxiety that he feared leaving his home.

He said for a long time that his only social activity was running errands for his elderly mother while wearing a disguise.

“You’re scared to ever come out…you feel absolutely helpless about it,” he said.

“I have been to the restaurant once in four and a half years.”

Christie Whelan Browne has made allegations against Craig McLachlan.(PA: Dan Himbrechts)

He said that on one occasion, while wearing a disguise while shopping at Coles, his hat fell off and a nearby customer recoiled in fear when she identified him.

“[The] wife grabbed her children and ruled them… looking at me in disgust, it was very, very hard to reconcile,” the 56-year-old said.

McLachlan testified that immediately after the stories aired on January 8, 2018, his cousin came and stayed with him because he was worried he was “doing something stupid” and by the end of the year, the actor had to be admitted to mental health. facility.

He also explained that it was too upsetting to read and watch the stories when they were posted online and that Ms Scammell had to read them to him a few days later.

The Sydney Morning Herald put McLachlan on the cover of its January 8 edition and a double-page spread headlined: “Manipulator, Predator: McLachlan Charged,” the court heard.

“When the news broke… and it was revealed to me that these allegations had been made by my friends, it was just too hard to read today’s article,” he said.

“The realization that my friends who ‘fucked me’, poked me, laughed with me and sat on my lap for almost eight months, [who] put their fingers in my nose, shared their life with me, made these allegations…” McLachlan said before breaking down.

Yesterday the former Neighbors star told the jury that the cast of The Rocky Horror Show often played gags or ‘schticks’ on each other and said Whelan Browne often ‘goosed’ people – whom he described as someone one using his fingers to ram someone else’s buttocks.

The trial is expected to hear from 11 women who worked with McLachlan on the Rocky Horror Show and television shows, including The Doctor Blake Mysteries, about inappropriate touching or comments by the actor.

This morning, his attorney Kieran Smark SC outlined the dozens of allegations made by the women, all of which McLachlan has flatly denied.

Some accusations include touching Whelan Browne’s genitals during a bedroom scene on The Rocky Horror Show, exposing himself to numerous cast members, and threatening to “end” a actor who complained that he kissed her without her consent.

The hearing continues.

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