Aussie actor Craig McLachlan denies sexual misconduct claims

In this April 23, 2014, photo, Craig McLachlan performs during a media call for The Rocky Horror Show at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. McLachlan has left a stage show and a TV series he was to star in has suspended production after three actresses of a 2014 production of the "The Rocky Horror Show," accused him of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying four years ago. The 52-year-old actor has denied the allegations that were first reported in the media on Monday, Jan 8, 2018. (Julian Smith/AAP Image via AP)

Australian actor Craig McLachlan has left a stage show and production of a television series he was to star in has been suspended after three actresses accused him of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying four years ago

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian actor Craig McLachlan has left a stage show and a TV series he was to star in suspended production after three actresses accused him of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying four years ago.

The 52-year-old actor, who is a household name in Australia, has denied the allegations, which were first reported in the media on Monday.

McLachlan gained international followings in the 1980s and 1990s through his roles in the Australian television soap operas "Neighbours" and "Home and Away," and the British spy drama series "Bugs."

He achieved success as a singer, and his band Check 1-2 had a hit in Britain and Australia with the single "Mona" in 1990. He also earned critical acclaim for his starring role as Danny Zuko in a London production of the musical "Grease" in the 1990s.

The accusations were leveled by three actresses who were cast members of a 2014 production in the city of Melbourne of the "The Rocky Horror Show," in which McLachlan starred as the transvestite alien Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

The actresses Angela Scundi, Erika Heynatz and Christie Whelan Browne made the allegations in interviews reported by Fairfax Media and broadcast by Australian Broadcasting Corp. through a joint investigation on Monday. Scundi and Heynatz also complained in December to Victoria state police, who confirmed on Monday that they were investigating.

McLachlan issued a statement denying all allegations detailed in the media, including touching women's genitals, groping their breasts and exposing his penis.

"These allegations are ALL made up," McLachlan said in an email to Fairfax.

"I am, and have been at all relevant times, in a relationship with my long-term partner," he added, referring to conductor and musical director Vanessa Scammell.

McLachlan had reprised his starring role in an Adelaide city production of "Rocky Horror" since New Year's Eve before the allegations were published.

The producers, The Gordon Frost Organisation, said it was "shocked to learn of allegations" that it was taking "very seriously."

"In response, we have spoken to Craig and have mutually agreed that it is not appropriate for him to continue in the current production of the show," the producers said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We will be conducting a full internal investigation and will cooperate fully with authorities."

December Media, producers of "The Doctor Blake Mysteries," which stars McLachlan, said Tuesday that it had put on hold work on a seventh season of the popular murder mystery television series, which is scheduled to screen in Australia this year.

"In the light of these allegations, December Media will temporarily hold production preparations for the new series to allow due process," the producers said in a statement.

December Media said it was confident that there had been no incidents involving any member of cast or crew acting inappropriately toward others in the six-year history of the series.

The "Rocky Horror" producers also said their records showed that none of the complainants had raised a complaint with the company in 2014.

The three women said in media interviews that they gained confidence that their allegations would be taken seriously after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein lost his job over allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The women also said they feared for the current "Rock Horror" cast if they did not speak out.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday that another two members of the 2014 "Rocky Horror" cast had gone to police with allegations against McLachlan following publicity surrounding the original allegations.

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