Warning: This article contains information about sexual assault which may be distressing for some readers.
Craig McLachlan is a Gold Logie-winning actor who first appeared on Australian television screens more than 30 years ago in 1987 as Henry Ramsay on Neighbours.
Since then, the 52-year-old has appeared on Home and Away, McLeod’s Daughters and the recent Channel 10 hit The Wrong Girl. He’s released three studio albums and has appeared in theatre productions of Grease and The Rocky Horror Show.
He’s also the latest Australian entertainer to be accused of indecent assault, sexual harassment, exposing himself and bullying by his former female colleagues.
As part of the same joint investigation that revealed Don Burke’s alleged history of sexual harassment and bullying, Fairfax and ABC report a number of McLachlan’s former female castmates allege they were abused, harassed or assaulted. He has denied all allegations levelled against him.
In the report written by Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont, multiple women who worked with the star during the 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show allege the star touched their genitals and groped their breasts, and claim that McLachlan also exposed himself and pressed his penis up against them during the show.
One former co-star, model and actress Erika Heynatz, described McLachlan as a "really calculated, very manipulative, predator".
Now 42, Heynatz - who starred in Home and Away and hosted the first two seasons of Australia's Next Top Model - said she was once assaulted by McLachlan in the green room of Melbourne's Comedy Theatre.
She said her Rocky Horror co-star walked over to where she was sitting, "straddled me on a couch, knee either side, and started kissing my neck".
"That's not normal workplace behaviour, that's not normal, that's not OK," Heynatz told reporter Kate McClymont.
"And yet for some reason, because of this sense of entitlement and this level of confidence... he thought there was nothing wrong with doing that."
Another time, Heynatz said McLachlan entered her dressing room as she was preparing to go on stage and confessed that he was "falling in love" with her before forcefully kissing her.
But Heynatz isn't the only female co-star with disturbing allegations.
Christie Whelan Browne, who performed the lead role of Janet alongside McLachlan during the 2014 Rocky Horror Show tour, claimed she was often indecently assaulted during the performance, right in front of the unknowing audience's eyes.
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The duo had a sex scene together, in which the two were covered by a sheet visible only by the shoulders up by the audience. McLachlan's character would then kiss Browne's neck and disappear from view.
Whelan Browne alleged McLachlan would sometimes continue kissing her breasts and stomach as she "would have to swat him away".
"This one night when he turned me around, he pulled my undies up so my bum cheek was out and he was kissing my bum," the actress, who is currently starring in Muriel's Wedding The Musical, told The Sydney Morning Herald through tears.
"There is nothing I can do. I am stuck. There's 2000 people watching me and can't see him.
"As the tour went on he would say he could see my vagina through my white underpants - that was my costume - and he said that he could see the slit of my vagina and that he could smell it and it smells sweet."
Another former co-star of The Wrong Girl and The Doctor Blake Mysteries star told The Sydney Morning Herald the public had been fooled by his public "larrikin" persona.
"There is another side to this man that he has very, very craftily and cleverly disguised from people for so long. It's like this split personality. The other personality is this sinister, predatory behaviour," said the unnamed actress.
In an emailed response to the allegations, McLachlan told Fairfax the reports against him were "baseless and vicious lies" that were "ALL made up".
"They seem to be simple inventions, perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety," the statement read.
When confronted with specific examples of his alleged abuse, McLachlan said he had "no recollection" of any of the events.
Heynatz alleged McLachlan's behaviour - which she said, was reported to several of the show's staff - started to affect her performance on stage and she often found herself with severe anxiety before each show.
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It wasn't until the story of legendary Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein broke that the women felt strong enough to share their stories.
At the time, veteran journalist Tracey Spicer shared she was investigating "long-term offenders" in Australia's media industry and urged women to come forward with their stories.
After receiving hundreds of women sharing their stories of harassment at the hands of some of the countries most recognisable and powerful stars, she was ready to "name and shame them".
Heynatz said the women allegedly abused and harassed by McLachlan were afraid no one would believe them if they were to go public.
But the women decided that "now was the time" for the truth to be revealed - and to help prevent similar alleged behaviour from happening in future.
To read the full Sydney Morning Herald/ABC investigation, click here.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.
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