Eleven women are expected to allege misconduct by Craig McLachlan during a Rocky Horror Show production, and other television and theatre shows, a court has been told.
The Gold Logie winner is suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and actress Christie Whelan Browne for defamation over claims made in 2018 reports of assault, indecent assault, harassment and that he exposed himself to female cast members during the production.
The 56-year-old is also suing over claims about his conduct in workplaces beyond The Rocky Horror Show.
The media outlets are defending the claims on the basis of truth.
On Tuesday, defence barrister Michael Hodge QC told the NSW Supreme Court that McLachlan behaved inappropriately to six women who worked on a 2014 Rocky Horror Show production, with five of those women being performers and one a crew member.
Mr Hodge said the defence planned to call those women as witnesses as well as another five women who worked with McLachlan on televisions shows Neighbours, City Homicide and The Doctor Blake Mysteries, and a 2018 Rocky Horror Show production.
The barrister said there would be evidence from three women who played Janet in the 2014 Rocky Horror Show production, with their testimony expected to include that he would “kiss down the body” of actresses during “the bed scene” while hidden from view.
The court was told that the defence case included that McLachlan, in the scene, on one occasion “traced down” part of Whelan Browne’s vagina with his finger after telling her earlier that he could “see her little slit” through see-through stage underpants.
McLachlan, on another occasion during the same scene, pulled her stage underpants to the side and kissed her on the buttock, the barrister said.
“That was not something that he had agreed to with the actress playing Janet,” Mr Hodge told the court.
There would also be evidence from Whelan Browne that she was “frightened and upset” after McLachlan grabbed her jaw and aggressively threw her face to one side during the rock musical’s “I’m going home” scene.
Mr Hodge told the jury that Whelan Browne had a “pretty filthy” sense of humour and they would likely hear of communications, including text messages, between her and McLachlan of the pair “joking around”.
Two other actresses who played Janet, one of whom cannot be identified, would also tell of “uncomfortable” encounters with McLachlan during musical, the court was told.
It was told their evidence would include the actor running his hand up an actress’s leg when she was standing on a hidden platform, and forced kissing in a dressing room.
Another woman from the 2014 production, who played Magenta, would testify that McLachlan would enter her dressing room when she was alone, partially undressed.
“He would come in and want to hug her, and hug her,” Mr Hodge said.
McLachlan in his evidence is expected to tell the court about “camaraderie” among actors and that they deal with stresses differently to other workplaces.
The actor is expected to testify later on Tuesday.
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