Australian actor Craig McLachlan was found not guilty yesterday of seven indecent assault and six common assault allegations levelled against him by five complainants, including Christie Whelan Browne, Erika Heynatz, Angela Scundi, Tim Maddren and a fifth person who cannot be named. All allege McLachlan indecently assaulted them during a production of The Rocky Horror Show. McLachlan maintained his innocence from the onset, describing one (Browne) as the most lewd person he’d ever met. Legally misrepresented as a ‘sexual assault trial‘ there would be a lot of angry women out there right now, having failed to scalp either Geoffrey Rush or McLachlan.
The female magistrate’s grudging acquittal of the accused was hedged in apologies and qualifiers. After roundly applauding the complainants as ‘brave and honest‘, she railed against ‘outdated laws‘ which prevented her from recording a conviction against McLachlan. She criticised Stuart Littlemore QC, one of the finest lawyers this country has every produced, of inappropriateness because he probed the complainant’s complicity in the alleged misconduct. Feminists call this victim-blaming, others call it cross-exmination. I’m not sure where I stand.
Laddish behaviour has a proper place in Australian society. Properly done, it is mostly enjoyed by all genders, and is both healthy and harmless in the majority of cases. Critics, please don’t ignore the multiple qualifiers as you’re so often wont to do. Can any Aussie imagine living in a jokeless world where a flirty female is immune from criticism for telling a male co-worker “Hey, that’s a great ass, seriously as great asses go, that’s a great ass” as McLachlan alleges he endured, but when the male responds he gets criminally charged? Fuck that.
It’s got to the stage that In my HR world I will never have a closed-door conversation with a female employee. It’s just too risky. If women complain that men in their organisations seem distant, it could be because they’re genuinely concerned about being falsely accused. All these ambitious girls stamping their feet and demanding quality mentoring from wary males who simply won’t provide it. Feminists cite this as another example of sexism, but for blokes it’s just prudence. And if you asked their wives, do you think they’d disagree?
No doubt Craig McLachlan needs to grow the fuck up. We are the same age: 52 years old. By his own admissions, he’s an immature dickhead who need to grow up. But is he a sex offender? The court says no. And for unquestioningly jumping aboard the peak-white-feminist #MeToo bandwagon and recklessly defaming him to the point where his livelihood has been jeopardised before a single fact in issue had been determined, the media can pay. If this has a chilling effect on the reportage of inappropriate male behaviour, then that’s how it goes. Even men are innocent until proven guilty.
For the record, I would retain Stuart Littlemore QC in a heartbeat. But was this the right result? I don’t know.