‘He would kiss down my breasts’
A THEATRE star has claimed she had to "wriggle away" as Craig McLachlan inappropriately touched and kissed her on stage, as more accusers made complaints to police over the Gold Logie winner's alleged behaviour.
Christie Whelan Browne told ABC's 7.30 she had to "go into the theatre with armour on" while starring alongside McLachlan in a 2014 Melbourne production of The Rocky Horror Show.
"He was directed to kiss down my neck, down my arm and go down out of sight but he would always kiss down my breasts and continue to kiss all the way down until I would have to sort of move and wriggle away," she said.
Whelan Brown and two other former co-stars have made a series of claims against McLachlan, who previously starred in top soaps Home and Away, Neighbours and on ABC drama The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
He has strenuously denied each accusation and threatened legal action. Denying the women's claims over his behaviour during the touring musical, McLachlan described the show as "a confrontational musical oozing with sexuality" and that as a result "actors have to perform certain actions".
Another actress, Erika Heynatz, said McLachlan confronted her in her dressing room one day.
"He took me by the face and kissed me. And I was completely taken aback by it. So I was just kind of frozen. And shaky. It really unsettled me. It unnerved me. It undermined my confidence," she told 7.30.
Heynatz said she had become so distressed by McLachlan's visits to her dressing room she discussed the situation with a crew member, who would come and sit with her while she was preparing for a show.
A third accuser, Angela Scundi, said she told a director she didn't want to perform an unscripted kiss with McLachlan that he often improvised with the principal actress for which Scundi was an understudy. Scundi said she was assured she didn't have to.
"The second night I went on, I ran in, hugged. He grabbed me and kissed me. But I couldn't do anything. That's what I felt. I was caught completely off guard because the night before he hadn't done that. And so I thought I was safe," she said.
She said she confronted him, calling him a "cheeky b***ard", but the stage and screen star turned on her.
"He turned around and he said, 'What do you mean?' And I'm like, 'Don't do that. Don't you kiss me. Don't you do that ever again.'"
She continued: "And he turned and, like, I don't feel fear at that level, but I haven't felt that terrified ever in my life or ever again."
Victoria Police confirmed on Monday complaints had been received concerning McLachlan's behaviour. At least two more women have contacted police about the actor's behaviour since allegations were published by Fairfax and ABC on Monday, Fairfax reports.
The popular actor said in an email to Fairfax Media the claims were "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.
The theatre company behind The Rocky Horror Show, The Gordon Frost Organisation (GFO), yesterday confirmed McLachlan would be stood down from his role in the current production of the show.
"We take these allegations very seriously, and have always endeavoured to prioritise a safe working environment," the statement read.
"In response, 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 co-operate fully with authorities."
GFO said it was not aware of allegations before they were aired in media reports.
Production of The Doctor Blake Mysteries has also been put on hold "to allow due process", production company December Media announced Monday.