Craig McLachlan out of Rocky Horror over sex claims
CRAIG McLachlan will step down from his starring role in The Rocky Horror Show.
The musical's production company The Gordon Frost Organisation issued a statement this afternoon saying they had come to a "mutual" agreement with the actor.
"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. We will be conducting a full internal investigation and will cooperate fully with authorities," the statement said.
"While we clearly cannot comment on the details of this particular case, sexual assault in any form is unacceptable, and we will work diligently within this industry to support the right of all people to be protected in the workplace, and stand by those who are victims of inappropriate behaviour."
The company also said it was shocked to learn of allegations and that it received no formal or informal complaints at the time of the 2014 production.
"In order to clarify media reports, we wish to state that we were not aware of any details of these allegations until they were published in the media today. We received correspondence from a law firm shortly before Christmas however this contained no details of the claims or the claimants. The response from our lawyers was based on this lack of information and was not in any way directed at the women who have come forward and made these allegations.
"We can also confirm that our records show the claimants at no time made any complaint - formal or informal - to the company manager or executive producer of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014. Furthermore no one at GFO recalls any verbal discussion of this nature. It would be distressing to us if anyone within our company was dismissive of sexual assault allegations, and this will form a part of our internal investigation."
The report comes as Victorian Police are investigating claims involving McLachlan.
McLachlan has vigorously denied claims of indecent assault, sexual harassment, exposing himself and bullying female co-stars.
The popular actor, best known for his roles in the Doctor Blake Mysteries, Neighbours and Home & Away has said in an email to Fairfax Media the claims are "baseless" and "they seem to be simple inventions, perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety".
"These allegations are ALL made up," he said.
Fairfax Media and the ABC reported that a number of McLachlan's female cast members in the 2014 theatre production of The Rocky Horror Show alleged they were abused, harassed or assaulted by the former Neighbours star.
McLachlan has been accused by multiple actresses of allegedly "touching their genitalia", "groping their breasts", "exposing himself" and "pressing his penis against them".
Many of the actresses have also reportedly made claims to police.
Actress Erika Heynatz, who went to the police about McLachlan's behaviour, reportedly described him as "really calculated and very manipulative, a predator".
Meanwhile, musical theatre star Christie Whelan Browne also alleged that McLachlan indecently assaulted her during performances of the show.
Whelan Browne, who had to perform a sex scene with McLachlan on stage in Rocky Horror, alleges she had to "swat him away" when he would kiss her behind a sheet on stage.
"He would keep kissing as if he was going to keep going and I would have to swat him away," she told Fairfax.
She explained that there was nothing she could do at the time as she was onstage with 2000 people watching. She also alleges that he would make crude comments about her body and touched her inappropriately.
McLachlan denies her claims, describing the show was "a confrontational musical oozing with sexuality" and that as a result "actors have to perform certain actions".
Another actress, who had also reportedly worked with McLachlan, said her "biggest pet peeve is that people think he is this ukulele-playing larrikin that they see on the Today show every couple of months when he comes on to spruik something he's doing".
"He's a larrikin, up for a laugh and certainly, when we all first met him, that's indeed how he came across. But there is another side to this man that he has very, very craftily and cleverly disguised from people for so long. It's like this split personality. The other personality is this sinister, predatory behaviour," she said.
Actress Angela Scundi, who worked with McLachlan on the 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show, reportedly said that the star allegedly made inappropriate comments about her breasts, while recalling an incident where he was reportedly wearing only boxer shorts when he hugged her.
"He pushed his pelvis into me and moved around so I could feel his penis against my body," Scundi, who played a phantom in the production and was the understudy to Heynatz's Magenta, said.
"Craig grabbed my hand and said to me, 'Every day I am falling more and more in love with you'."
Scundi, who has reportedly made a statement to police, alleged that McLachlan asked her to come into his dressing room, closed the door, took off his boxer shorts 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'."
"I have NEVER done anything like this," McLachlan reportedly said in his emailed statement.
In the statement, McLachlan said: "I am, and have been at all relevant times, in a stable relationship with my long-term partner.
This morning Victoria Police confirmed they are investigating.
"Detectives from Melbourne's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team are investigating allegations of sexual offences dating back to 2014," Victoria Police said in a statement.
"As the investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to make any further comments."
Meanwhile, theatre producer Lisa Campbell has given her support to Whelan, Heynatz and Scundi on Twitter, saying "They have no reason to make this up and went to unions, producers, police and lawyers prior to this being public."
'Home and Away actress Penny McNamee also took to social media, describing the women as "honest and reliable".