Actor Craig McLachlan has delayed his defamation case against the ABC, Fairfax and Rocky Horror Show co-star Christie Whelan Browne until criminal proceedings against him are completed.
Despite McLachlan’s case scheduled to begin trial next month, his lawyer has now pushed it back, arguing the recent charges against him would impact the trial.
On Monday, McLachlan was charged with indecent assault by the Victorian Police.
The charges include one count of common law assault, eight counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted indecent assault.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: “Melbourne Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team have charged a 53-year-old NSW man on one count of common law assault, eight counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted indecent assault.
“He was charged on summons to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 8 February 2019.”
Meanwhile, speaking to the Herald Sun, a spokesman for McLachlan said: “Craig is innocent of these charges which will be vigorously defended.”
Speaking on the charges and the need for a delay, McLachlan’s lawyer Stuart Littlemore said: “The reality is the entirety of the defence to the civil case is that it is true the applicant is guilty of the indent assaults.
According to the ABC, Justice Lucy McCallum approved the delay, stating if the trial went ahead, McLachlan “will either have to conduct the defamation proceedings with one hand tied behind his back and likely lose, or waive his privilege against self-incrimination.”
“The cross-examination of McLachlan in the civil proceedings would likely become a feature of the criminal proceedings,” she said.
“The weight afforded to the privilege against self-incrimination is paramount.”
In response to this, the barrister representing the defendants, Tom Blackburn SC argued the delay could mean another year and a half until the case is put in front of a court.
“There is evidence … that the (criminal) proceedings are unlikely to come up in Victoria for another 18 months,” he said.
“Then of course this court will have to find another four-week window … and the reality is this case is not going to get on until 2021 … which will be about seven years after the events in the Rocky Horror Show occurred.
“That is deeply unsatisfactory from the point of view of recollection memory, it’s a very substantial delay.”
Speaking on how Whelan Browne is handling the ongoing proceedings, Blackburn said: “It’s not just a matter of stress and anxiety [to that defendant] caused by having the defamation allegations made against her and the social media abuse … her reputation is at stake in this just as much as the applicant is,” he said.
“She is going to be branded a liar and a fabricator.”