Detectives have begun investigating the former Neighbours star over shocking allegations of sexual assault during The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tour in 2014.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on January 8, 2018

Former Neighbours and Home and Away star Craig McLachlan has been accused of predatory behaviour by three cast members of the 2014 The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Erika Heynatz, Christie Whelan Browne and Angela Scundi have alleged they were abused, harassed and/or assaulted by the now 52-year-old during the musical tour.

Ms Whelan Browne says she told the production company Gordon Frost Organisation (GFO) that she was afraid of Mr McLachlan at the time but no action was taken, and complaints have since been lodged with Victorian police by two of the women.

They have also hired a lawyer to request an independent investigation into their claims.

Fairfax Media investigative reporter Kate McClymont has today tweeted that detectives from Melbourne’s Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team have begun investigating the alleged offences.

The women reconnected during the #MeToo movement, and it gave them the courage to openly share their experiences.

“When the Harvey Weinstein story broke I started to get… terrible anxiety that was keeping me up at night… my heart punching through my chest day and night,” said Ms Whelan Browne, who played the lead role of Janet.

“We all decided… the time is now and it has to be done and then perhaps now we will be taken seriously,” added Ms Scundi.

Mr McLachlan’s status as golden boy of the stage, and the show’s major drawcard, deterred the trio from taking it further at the time.

“They’re not going to believe us, he’s the big head star, they’re going to keep him, we’re going to lose our jobs,” Ms Heynatz said, despite being a household name herself, having hosted reality TV series’ such as Australia’s Next Top Model.

“We were replaceable… That’s the disgusting thing about it. We all feel as though our voice isn’t enough, we’re not important enough, we don’t earn enough money.”

The accusations

The common theme is that Mr McLachlan would strike when the women were at their most vulnerable.

Speaking for the joint ABC/Fairfax investigation, Ms Whelan Browne teared up as she recounted a scene involving Mr McLachlan as Frank N Furter in a vertical bed.

He was supposed to kiss down her neck and then disappear under the sheets.

“So he started the kissing down the neck and down the arm, but then it gradually moved to the breasts and down the stomach. So he would keep kissing as if he was going to keep going and I would have to swat him away,” she said.

“But this one night when he turned me around, he pulled my undies up so my bum cheek was out and he was kissing my bum. There is nothing I can do. I am stuck. There’s 2000 people watching me and can’t see him.

He pulled my undies up so my bum cheek was out and he was kissing my bum. There is nothing I can do. I am stuck.

“As the tour went on he would say he could see my vagina through my white underpants — that was my costume — and he said that he could see the slit of my vagina and that he could smell it and it smells sweet.

“When he was down in the bed he traced the outline of my vagina with his finger and I slapped his hand away.”

Ms Scundi was allegedly summoned to his dressing room, and once there, Mr McLachlan took his underwear off and stood up naked.

“I said ‘What the f—?!’ and turned away to leave. He responded with laughter, saying ‘No, no, no. Don’t go, sorry, I’m just so comfortable’.”

Ms Heynatz said she was sitting on a couch in the green room of Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre when Mr McLachlan straddled her and started kissing her neck with his knees either side of her, before she forced him off.

This was after he had grabbed her face and kissed her against her her will in the dressing room earlier in the tour, she added.

“That’s not normal workplace behaviour, that’s not normal, that’s not OK and yet for some reason, because of this sense of entitlement and this level of confidence… he thought there was nothing wrong with doing that,” she said.

She also detailed how her and another actress were performing a duet where they had to stand on a raised platform and only their head and shoulders could be seen by the audience.

He was “reaching up and grabbing up between her legs and up at her bottom so she’s having to kind of donkey kick him away,” she recalled.

“Because I’ve already been on the receiving end of some unwanted attention, I’m thinking, any minute now, that’s going to be me. So of course my legs start shaking and ultimately it’s not safe,” she continued.

“While you are on stage you’ve still got to do your job, and meanwhile you’ve got this person who’s kind of messing with you, messing with you from the waist down.”

McLachlan says its all made up

The Gold Logie award-winning actor said the accusations are “baseless”.

In an email response to the ABC, he wrote: “Frankly, they seem to be simple inventions, perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety. In either event, they are to the best of my knowledge utterly and entirely false.”

“These allegations are ALL made up.”