*Warning: if you are a survivor of abuse, this post may be distressing.
Hughes has been released on bail but will be required to stay away from children at all times and will wear an electronic tracking device.
The prosecution alleges that Hughes sexually assaulted a number of girls, between the ages of six and sixteen. They allege that his actions included exposing his penis to them, making them touch him and vie versa.
According to news reports:
The 63-year-old, once Australia’s favourite on-screen father, was taken into custody at his London residence about 7am local time (4pm AEST) and later made a brief appearance in court.
A police source last night said Hughes was “shocked” when arrested by London Metropolitan Police and taken to Belgravia Police Station to be charged with the sex offences before appearing at the Westminster Local Court.
The charges relate to alleged offences against five girls between 1985 and 1990 in suburbs in Sydney’s north.
In March, 2010, former co-star Sarah Monahan – who played Hughes’ youngest on-screen daughter, Jenny – went public with claims he had touched her chest inappropriately and exposed himself to her several times while they worked on the show.
Actress Simone Buchanan, who played Debbie in the show, also spoke out, claiming she too had been touched inappropriately by Hughes.
While some of those associated with the show denied any knowledge of Monahan’s claims another cast member, Ben Oxenbould, corroborated the allegations.
This is a story Mamamia covered extensively back in March, 2010 when a former Hey Dad actor accused her former on-screen father of sexually abusing her. Back in 2010, Mamamia’s publisher Mia Freedman wrote the following after Sarah Monahan made her detailed allegations against Robert Hughes, relating to alleged sexual assaults:
There are so many tragic and disturbing aspects to this story it’s difficult to know how to unpack it…. Like the tragedy of this now grown-up woman telling Woman’s Day that she will never have children because she was too mentally and emotionally damaged.
Or the fact that as a little girl, she was the family breadwinner – beginning filming mere weeks after her father’s sudden death…
I was also struck about how times have changed. How what has been alleged would not happen today. Not on the set of the country’s most popular TV show, potentially witnessed by dozens of cast and crew. Why did they stay silent? Why were alleged victims and their families apparently warned to keep quiet or lose their careers? When the alleged perpetrator of abuse is a TV cash cow, there are many many vested interests at play. And so it appeared to be.
It’s unquestionably true that our collective radar for inappropriate or sexually abusive behaviour is so much more finely tuned today. There is more education and more support for the victims of abuse, more encouragement for them to speak up. Some people dismiss this kind of awareness sneeringly as political correctness. I call it evolution. And a wonderful, important thing.
When allegations like these come to air, it’s easy to be consumed by a feeling of helplessness.
That is why we are encouraging Mamamia readers to leave their own personal messages of support for Sarah and the other women who were involved in these events, as well as any other survivors of sexual assault who are reading this post. Please be aware that Sarah will be reading the comments.
Bravehearts are an organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse. You can find more information about them here.
*please note: the image of Sarah and Robert Hughes was taken when she was 5 years old. It has not been photoshopped, it was a Polaroid. While some commenters have said the image makes them ‘uncomfortable’, the issue is not one to be sugar-coated. Allegations of sexual abuse of children ARE uncomfortable and we don’t believe it is neccessary – or helpful to victims – to shy away from that.
Conscious of the sensitivities around this story however, we asked Sarah if she was comfortable with us using this image in this post and she said absolutely.
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