Craig McLachlan drops defamation lawsuit.
Craig McLachlan has cited his mental health in dramatically abandoning his defamation case over sexual assault and harassment claims made against the actor.
But the colleague he sued, Christie Whelan Browne, says she has been significantly traumatised by having her name dragged through the mud.
"I have received multiple threats and constant abuse and it continues to this day," she said in a statement.
McLachlan abandoned his lawsuit on Friday, two weeks into the NSW Supreme Court trial, just as witnesses were due to testify in the case against him.
He had sued the ABC, Fairfax and Whelan Browne over January 2018 publications claiming he harassed female performers in the 2014 stage production of The Rocky Horror Show.
His case finished on Thursday and the defence was due to start on Friday.
But Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson instead discharged the jury after being told the actor was not continuing with the case.
The award-winning performer was accused of touching, kissing and groping actresses without permission in the Rocky Horror stage production, Neighbours, City Homicide, and The Doctor Blake Mysteries
In his evidence, he agreed he had brought sexual jokes and pranks to The Rocky Horror Show, including deep-throating bananas, masturbating crew members' arms, kissing and grabbing them.
His barrister spoke of the "camaraderie" on the show and how actors dealt with stresses was different to other workplaces, while the actor denied the allegations made in the publications.
The actor and his wife, who had attended every day of the trial, were not present in court when his case was discontinued.
But in a statement he said the strain the case had put on him and his family had been utterly overwhelming.
"I cannot continue to place my family under that strain, and my own mental health will not withstand the continuing pressure," he said.
'"Ending the case now will finally bring to an end the four years we have endured since the publications were first made, as well as avoiding the need for other witnesses to have to endure the cross-examination process."
In her statement, Whelan Browne said she and other women came forward so other females would not have to endure the same behaviour they did in the 2014 production.
"| was then singled out and sued for defamation," she said.
"My name was dragged through the mud and my character and own behaviour was exaggerated and called into question.
"| had thought this kind of shaming was a thing of the past, but | was wrong.
"The past four and a half years have significantly traumatised me and the other brave women who spoke up at the time and afterwards."
During the trial, McLachlan's partner Vanessa Scammell testified her husband was "sucker-punched" by the articles, becoming a recluse, afraid to answer the phone and would surf at night to avoid being seen.
His barrister said the case was about a "double-pronged attack made on him by two powerful media organisations, while the outlets were defending the claims on the basis of truth.
Their barrister told the jury 11 women were expected to allege misconduct by McLachlan during the Rocky Horror production, and other television and theatre shows
In 2020, a Melbourne magistrate cleared McLachlan of indecently assaulting women during The Rocky Horror Show but described the actor as an unimpressive witness.
He was acquitted of seven counts of indecent assault and six of common law assault against four women during a run of the musical in Australia.
The magistrate described McLachlan's accusers as brave and honest, but it was not enough to prove the incidents amounted to assault.
In his statement on Friday, McLachlan also referred to being acquitted in the criminal trial.
"I look forward to restoring my health and spending more time with friends and family who have stood by me through this process."
Oklahoma has passed the strictest abortion laws in the United States.
The Oklahoma Legislature has passed a bill that will prohibit abortions at any stage of pregnancy, making them the toughest abortion bans in the US if signed into law.
The Bill passed through the state’s Republican-led House of Representatives in a vote of 73 to 16.
Once signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt the law will take effect immediately, banning nearly all abortions starting at fertilisation, as well as allowing individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.
Governor Stitt has previously said he would sign any anti-abortion bill that crosses his desk, adding that he wants Oklahoma to be the "most pro-life state in the country".
Today, Oklahoma passed a law effectively banning abortion from the moment of fertilization—the latest in a series of blatant attacks on women by extremist legislators. It has never been more urgent that we elect pro-choice leaders at the local, state, and federal level.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 19, 2022
Exceptions to the law can be made in cases of rape or incest, only if those crimes are reported to law enforcement.
An Oklahoma Democrat, Cyndi Munson, asked a Republican sponsor of the bill this week: "Can you explain to me why you’re OK with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?
"You understand what incest is, correct? You are OK with that?"
Wendi Stearman, the Republican sponsor, responded: "I am OK with preserving the life of the child.
"The child was not part of that decision."
It is not yet known when the law will be finalised.
COVID election rules to change, and all the news you need to know this morning.
We finally made it!
After weeks of promises and political ads (yes THAT song is stuck in my head too), we've finally reached the last day of the federal election campaign.
Before we head to the polls tomorrow, I thought I'd throwback to our piece I wrote on every question about the election you're too afraid to ask. You can read it here.
But first, let's get you across the biggest news stories you need to know today, Friday, May 20.
1. COVID election rules to change as parties head out for last day of campaign.
A last-minute change to voting rules will see Australians with COVID-19 allowed to vote in tomorrow's election.
The Australian Electoral Commission previously confirmed anyone who tested positive for the virus between Saturday and 6pm Tuesday "may not be able to vote".
"For people who did not apply for a postal vote before the application cut off, haven’t voted yet, tested positive before Tuesday and are in isolation through to after election day, they may not be able to vote," a spokesperson confirmed in a statement.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 6PR Radio in Perth the government had been waiting on advice from the AEC.
"They've come forward with a solution and we're happy to support it," he said.
Special Minister of State Ben Morton has since confirmed voters who have tested positive after 6pm Friday May 13 will be able to access the Secure Telephone Voting service.
Before the change, Labor Campaign Spokesperson Jason Clare called the rules "ridiculous", telling Sunrise "there are potentially 200,000 Aussies who won’t get to vote on the weekend".
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese will begin today on opposite sides of the country in a last dash to win over voters ahead of the election.
The opposition leader will start the day from Sydney before a three-state blitz of marginal seats held by the Coalition, while the prime minister will take on a final blitz of seats in Perth.
2. PM draws line on assisted dying in NT and ACT as NSW passes law.
Scott Morrison has refused to allow the ACT and Northern Territory the right to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
"That's not our policy," the prime minister told reporters in northern Tasmania yesterday.
"There are differences between territories and states and that is under our constitution and we're not proposing any changes."
Labor has pledged a parliamentary debate and conscience vote on a bill, but Anthony Albanese stopped short of saying it would be brought on in the first 100 days of government.
"What I haven't done is do the hundred-day game. I have said my view is well known about territories and about territories' right to determine their own legislation," he said.
It comes as NSW became the last state in Australia to pass laws allowing people with a terminal illness to voluntarily end their own life yesterday.
NSW is the 6th and last state to legalise Voluntary Assisted Dying.— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) May 19, 2022
Thank you to all my colleagues, @DWDnsw and @gogentle_aus for working so hard to achieve this reform.
It’s now time for the federal parliament to legislate to allow people in the ACT and NT the same rights. pic.twitter.com/yXTvsY1rQ3
The decision means within 18 months, people with a fatal diagnosis in NSW will be able to access voluntary assisted dying.
3. Monkeypox detected in Italy and Sweden as WHO on alert.
Italy and Sweden have become the latest countries to report cases of the rare disease monkeypox, with the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and the United States already dealing with the outbreak.
Monkeypox occurs in central and west Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and is considered endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was first discovered in humans in 1970.
The virus usually causes symptoms similar to smallpox but milder, and can be transmitted from person to person through air droplets, close bodily contact, or sharing contaminated linens or objects.
According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, one person is infected in the greater Stockholm area.
"The person infected with the virus in Sweden is not seriously ill but is receiving treatment," infectious disease expert Klara Sonden said in a statement.
NEW: Sweden confirms first case of monkeypoxhttps://t.co/qLP12WenAa— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) May 19, 2022
Italy's health chief of the Lazio region, Alessio D'Amato, also said one case had been confirmed at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases.
The World Health Organisation has called for vigorous contact tracing of the spate of cases and said the general public and health clinics should be aware, and have unusual skin rashes examined by specialist staff. If monkeypox is suspected, patients should be isolated.
4. Aussie swimmer sets world record.
Zac Stubblety-Cook has broken the 200m breaststroke world record at the Australian swimming championships in Adelaide.
"It's a lot to wrap your head around," Stubblety-Cook said, struggling to grasp the enormity of being Australian swimming's latest world record holder.
"It's a bit surreal to be perfectly honest."
Congratulations to our Queensland Olympian Zac Stubblety-Cook who broke a World Record last night to become the fastest man ever in 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:05.95 - 0.17 under the previous record 🙌👏💪 https://t.co/ub4N8BMnUd— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 19, 2022
Stubblety-Cook clocked two minutes 05.95 seconds, bettering the previous benchmark of 2:06.12 set by Russian Anton Chupkov in 2019.
The quietly spoken 23-year-old is arguably Australia's lowest-profile Olympic swimming champion.
Other winners from last night included McKeown (women's 4x100m medley), Brianna Throssell (women's 100m butterfly), Chelsea Hodges (women's 50m breaststroke) and Zac Incerti (men's 200m freestyle).
5. Rihanna welcomes first child.
In some entertainment news for your Friday, Rihanna has reportedly welcomed her first child with rapper A$AP Rocky.
According to TMZ, the 34-year-old gave birth on May 13 in Los Angeles. However, there are no details about the name or sex of the baby just yet.
The couple previously announced the pregnancy in January while walking through Harlem, New York,
At the time, Rihanna was wearing a pink vintage Chanel puffer coat unbuttoned to reveal her bump.
And that's it, you're all up to speed.
- With AAP.
Election 2022: What you need to know before you eat a democracy sausage.
It's the final countdown... time to fire up the barbeque and get those democracy sausages sizzling, as we prepare to head to the polls to vote in the 2022 federal election (unless you're one of the five million super-organised Aussies who've already cast their ballot).
But what if you haven't been particularly engaged in this election campaign, or you're still not sure who to vote for?
Well, fear not, because The Quicky speaks to two experts in Australian politics to wrap this election up like the bread around your snag into one easily digestible episode, summarising everything you need to know before you number those boxes.
- What women were talking about on Thursday
- What women were talking about on Wednesday
- What women were talking about on Tuesday
- What women were talking about on Monday
Feature Image: Getty.