TVNZs screening of Craig McLachlan doco slammed by sexual assault advocate

TVNZ’s scheduled airing of a controversial documentary centred around sexual assault accused actor Craig McLachlan has been slammed as inappropriate and disappointing by leading advocate Louise Nicholas.

More than two years ago, Victorian police charged McLachlan with eight charges of indecent assault and one each of attempted indecent assault and assault after three women filed complaints of alleged harassment while working with him during the theatre production of the Rocky Horror Show.

McLachlan is best known in New Zealand for appearing in Aussie soap operas Neighbours and Home and Away in the 1980s and 90s.

Last December Magistrate Belinda Wallington found him not guilty on all 13 charges at Melbourne Magistrates Court.

While Wallington found the women were “brave and honest witnesses”, she said the prosecutors had not met the required standard for her to find McLachlan guilty of the allegations.

She found while some of the incidents probably occurred, they were not necessarily indecent and did not meet the “high criminal standard” in law.

TVNZ is tonight going ahead with a scheduled screening of Australian network Seven’s documentary Spotlight: Craig McLachlan in which the actor and his partner Vanessa​ Scammel​ share what they went through.

But Nicholas said she was disappointed TVNZ was still going ahead with the screening despite the backlash they had received.

The documentary did nothing but re-victimise the women at the centre of the complaints, she said.

“For me and for survivors of sexual violence, what really gets me is that he’s had his say. Yes, he was found not guilty in a court of law but it doesn’t meant to say that he is not guilty, it’s just there wasn’t the burden of proof to get beyond reasonable doubt.

“That’s what we’ve got to help survivors of sexual violence understand is that just because somebody has been found not guilty it doesn’t mean that they are not guilty.”

Showing the documentary did nothing to encourage alleged victims of sexual violence to have the strength to go to police.

“When you air documentaries like this it does make people think ‘oh there’s no point in me coming forward’ and we encourage people to come forward and TVNZ aren’t helping with that.”

She said the women would “absolutely be re-victimised” by knowing the documentary was due to be screened in New Zealand.

“He’s got all the public viewing and ‘look at what the last three years has done to my life’ but sorry look at what it’s done to his [complainants].

“Whether it’s one person or 20 people, for him to be given airtime to re-hash and re-traumatise and re-victimise these women is totally inappropriate for TVNZ to do.”

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said the Spotlight documentary focused on McLachlan’s experience of being accused of sexual assault and eventually acquitted.

“It looks at his trial by media in Australia and the impact this had on his wellbeing over a three-and-a-half year period.

“This is a personal story – the programme makes no wider claims about sexual assault allegations or victims of sexual assault.

“The programme will be framed responsibly with content warnings when it airs.”

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