Craig McLachlan has strenuously denied the existence of ‘fresh’ claims of sexual assault against him.
In a statement on Friday the actor, who is suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and a former co-star for defamation over the reports made earlier this month, slammed the ‘false’ allegations.
‘There were no fresh allegations. They were first made in 2018 and they are false,’ said the 55-year-old.
Craig McLachlan [pictured this month] has strenuously denied the existence of ‘fresh’ claims of sexual assault against him
The ABC and Nine Newspapers had made the claims of ‘fresh’ allegations on May 15, citing a court document released that week by the NSW Supreme Court.
However McLachlan said the document was an ‘amended defence’ only making reference to pre-existing allegations.
He says the outlets republished those allegations in May 2021, ‘with the sensationalised claim that they had just been revealed.’
In a statement on Friday the actor, who is suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and a former co-star for defamation over the reports made earlier this month, slammed the ‘false’ allegations. Seen here in 2015
He also suggested the reports were made to ‘undermine’ any goodwill he might garner from a subsequent Channel 7 interview.
‘The ABC and Nine were aware that the Seven Network intended to broadcast a TV documentary special the following night which would give me the first public opportunity to tell my side of the story following my full acquittal of the 13 assault charges,’ said McLachlan.
‘The malicious motive of the ABC and Nine in republishing false allegations two-and-a-half years old was to undermine any benefit I might have received from telling my story on the Channel 7 program,’ said the veteran actor.
He said he plans to proceed with defamation proceedings against the outlets.
He also suggested the reports were made to ‘undermine’ any goodwill he might garner from a subsequent Channel 7 interview
McLachlan’s claims come just days after a new witness went public with claims supporting the actor’s denials that he touched a co-star’s genitals on stage.
The former Neighbours star broke his silence in an explosive interview with 7NEWS Spotlight earlier this month following his acquittal from sexual harassment charges in December.
The interview prompted a stage crew member to come forward with new information about one of the allegations raised during McLachlan’s recent criminal trial.
McLachlan recently broke his silence after being acquitted of sexual harassment in an explosive interview with Channel Seven. He’s pictured with partner Vanessa Scammell (left) during his trial last November
Police had alleged McLachlan either indecently assaulted or assaulted four complainants while performing in Melbourne between April 26, 2014 and July 13, 2014.
He was found not guilty of all charges in a 105 page decision by magistrate Belinda Wallington, which had related to his time starring in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and left him on the brink of suicide.
A female co-star claimed McLachlan traced his finger over her vagina during a bed scene one night during a performance, an allegation he strenuously denies.
However a stage crew member, claiming to be centimetres away watching McLachlan and his accuser when the alleged act occurred, supported McLachlan’s claims – saying it wouldn’t have been physically possible.
McLachlan also shared shocking footage of the moment he contemplated taking his own life. In an explosive interview with 7NEWS Spotlight, the actor was seen in self-filmed video clips, sitting on what he called the ‘Will I? or Won’t I? log’
Mark Lawrence was one of two crew members there for every performance during the production.
The scene requires another stagehand to pass a prosthetic limb to the actors through a curtain in one of the production’s funniest gags.
‘Through the little slits in the curtain, we can see the position of their legs and which way they’re facing,’ Mr Lawrence told the program on Sunday night.
‘From my point of view from where he was positioned at that particular time, he could not move across because at that time, the prosthetic leg was passed through and then passed back. He stuck in the corner, crouching down.
‘When we parted the curtain, you could actually see him in that position.’
Stage crew member Mark Lawrence (pictured) has come forward to back McLachlan’s denials
Mr Lawrence was then asked if he was ever approached by the authorities or police to recall his version of events.
‘No, not once,’ he emphatically replied.
McLachlan continues to protest his innocence and claims his accuser continued to text him for four years after the production ended.
‘I didn’t touch her vagina, that’s the important thing,’ McLachlan told the program.
‘I didn’t touch her vagina in that scene or in any scene.’
To prepare for his criminal trial, McLachlan filmed videos at home re-enacting how the scene was played, showing the proportions of the bed set ‘to the centimetre’, including the height of bed doona.
He spent hours sitting on what he called ‘Will I? or Won’t I? log’. The log was fashioned into a low, rustic bench located alongside a waterway with a notoriously strong current
‘I would sit there… because really at that point, all you can think about is, ‘Nessie is going to be better off. My family will be better off without me.’ I can’t win’ he said. ‘I would go and sit and see what the tide’s doing… I contemplated the unthinkable’
McLachlan was sacked from both the musical and his TV series, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, at the time of the allegations.
The fresh support from Mr Lawrence emerged a week after McLachlan has shared shocking footage of the moment he contemplated taking his own life.
McLachlan said he felt like his family and girlfriend, conductor Vanessa Scammell, who also appeared in the 7NEWS Spotlight special, would be ‘better off without me’.
‘Because really at that point, all you can think about is, ‘Nessie is going to be better off. My family will be better off without me.’ I can’t win. In this post-Weinstein hashtag-me-too world-gone-mad, I can’t win,’ he said.
”We could compare Craig to Harvey Weinstein.’ Really? Even though I’ve never forced people sexual favours, I’ve never locked anyone in a hotel room and told them to give me a handy? It is outrageous.
‘Anyway, I would go down and just think… I’ll write a long letter… make sure Nessie and my son, my family, are looked after. And then I’ll do what I have to do.
‘I would go and sit and see what the tide’s doing… I contemplated the unthinkable.’
Elsewhere in the interview, McLachlan claimed he remained friends with one of his accusers for years after the alleged assault. McLachlan ranted, in tears, that he was not guilty, before his partner Scammell attempted to soothe him, and asked the interview to be cut
Attempting to explain the outburst, Scammell told the interviewers: ‘ He’s been abandoned by everybody. Except for me and our close team. And I think, after three and a half years, after not being able to speak, the ability to actually let it out…’ she trailed off
McLachlan later stormed out of the interview in tears, after claiming he had remained friends with one of his accusers for years after the alleged assault.
‘She ran out of a café on the corner in Potts Point in Sydney. To think this girl runs out of the café and hugs us right there… [She said,] ‘Oh, my god, it’s so good to see you. Oh, I really miss you, Craig.’
‘Are you kidding me? In six weeks’ time [to know what] she had planned.’
‘[The girl who] texted us continually? You’re referring to that individual? The one I worked with for two years? You’re referring to that girl?’ he continued.
‘This girl actively maintained and pursued a friendship. Not only did we continue to work together, we continued to work together and have, and I’m speaking for me…
Later in the interview, the actor also shared footage of the shipping container he spent time living in while out of work an in hiding
‘There’s an en suite and dunny down the end. Even a heater. And it’s pretty good,’ he said in the clip, while filming the storage container in which he lived for a time
‘You know, we had a great time together in 2016. An even better time in 2017,’ he rambled on, breaking down in angry tears.
‘Suddenly, I’m this monstrous, rogue, individual, who goes and grabs people on the vagina. As even a 100 percent acquitted, innocent man, I feel I I continue to be f**ked over, day, after day, after day, by our friend. And you might get some sense of why I was admitted to a mental health facility.
‘Before the haters say you were acquitted because you are guilty, the f**k I am. The f**k I am!’ McLachlan ranted, in tears, before his partner Scammell attempted to soothe him, and asked the interview to be cut.
The 90 minute program aired on May 16 divided viewers across the country.
Back to work: McLachlan says that he has not worked in three years, but revealed on Sunday night that he will next appear in a one-man show about the life of country singer Hank Williams in South Australia. Pictured with Scammell in 2016
In December, McLachlan was found not guilty of indecently assaulting actors during the running of a hit musical.
McLachlan had maintained his alleged sexual offending while working on the production was no more inappropriate than a cricketer giving a teammate a pat on the bum.
Magistrate Ms Wallington said it was McLachlan’s ‘egotistical self entitled sense of humour’ that led him to believe at least one of his alleged victim’s would either not mind or find his behaviour funny.
‘I want it noted the following: The four complainants were brave and honest witnesses. I was not persuaded that there was evidence of collusion between the complainants,’ Ms Wallington said.
Allegations: Police had alleged McLachlan either indecently assaulted or assaulted four complainants in Melbourne between April 26, 2014 and July 13, 2014. In a 105 page decision, Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington found McLachlan not guilty of all charges
‘I was not persuaded that there was evidence of motive, or that the complaints were made for reason of career ambition or any other such reason.’
As the contested hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court drew to an end, it was heard McLachlan’s defence had submitted 160 pages denying the allegations.
He had endured months of scrutiny which saw him and his partner Vanessa forced to make their way through media packs outside of a Melbourne court.
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Pictured: McLachlan as he appeared in the hit soap opera Neighbours back in his glory days