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John Jarratt cheated on his wife with their housemate. 41 years later, he was accused of rape.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, A Country Practice, McLeod’s Daughters, Wolf Creek.

These are just some of the Australian classics John Jarratt has under his belt after more than four decades in the Australian film and TV industry.

But in 2017 he was on our screens for a different reason, he had been accused of rape – and while fighting the charges he allowed 60 Minutes to film every minute of his journey through the courts.

Here’s a snippet from the episode. Post continues after video.

Video via Nine

The complaint was made to the media before the police, and Jarratt only found out when his agent called to tell him about it.

John and wife Rosa had been married two years and were living in a share house in Randwick with the complainant, who they’d considered a friend up until this accusation 41 years after the fact.

In 1976, Jarratt was 23 and had already made three movies. He was a rising star.

The complainant said he came into the house drunk at 3am and woke her up by ripping the sheet and blanket off the bed.

John Jarratt
John Jarratt was 23 at the time of the incident. He admits he was young, dumb and immature. Image: 60 Minutes.
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Then she claimed he ripped her underwear and t-shirt off, got on top of her still clothed, held his hand over her mouth and raped her.

"It's like a horror mansion to me now," Jarrett told 60 Minutes' Tara Brown when the Channel 9 crew took him back to the house in question.

"It's awful," he said.

Jarratt denies he's a rapist, but he does admit that on that night in 1976, he was a cheat.

"I came home from a meeting at 10:30 and everyone was in bed. I came out of the bathroom and she [the housemate] loud whispered to me and I went over and the door was slightly ajar.

"She said 'come in and tell us about the meeting'. So I came in and she started saying how exciting it must be in movies and that she found me attractive, which is sort of seductive," he told Tara Brown.

He then had consensual sex with his housemate, while his wife slept in the next room.

"I felt guilt and remorse and I made a huge mistake," Jarratt told the program.

When asked by Brown if there is any way that what he viewed as consensual, she could have viewed as rape, he replied; "No absolutely not. I believe that she started the seduction and my problem was that I acted on it".

"We had consensual sex, it's the only sex I've ever had, I am not a brutal person," he said.

Jarratt says at the time he was young and stupid and went on to tell his wife about his indiscretion eight years later in 1984.

John and Rosa
John and Rosa divorced not long after she found out he'd cheated. But they re-married two years ago. Image: 60 Minutes.
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"It was painful," Rosa told 60 Minutes about that moment.

"It's betrayal. It's shocking to know a friend has betrayed you. It's shocking to know your husband has betrayed you," she said.

Their marriage ended in divorce thanks to a culmination of stresses, but two years ago they remarried after rekindling their romance.

"Rosa is the love of my life, she's my soulmate, my rock and my best friend," John said.

Rosa was by his side while he fought the charges that could have seen him locked away for a maximum of 14 years.

When asked if she had forgiven her husband for his indiscretion, she told Tara Brown, "There's layers of forgiveness. It's not an easy thing to forgive straight away. But we've been able to work through it".

 

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My beautiful wife.#beautyandthebeast

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The allegation was made in the height of the #MeToo movement and at the height of Jarratt's career - he was starring in Wolf Creek season 2 at the time.

"I feel this person has looked at all that and thought this guy's got a few bucks and he's doing alright. That's my opinion, that she thought 'we can pick on John Jarratt because he's playing a psychopathic serial killer'."

When the allegation was made public, Jarratt's career came to a grinding halt.

"I feel very cheated. I am unemployable. I am trying to work out how I am going to pay my lawyers and all the other debts that I've incurred through two years of unemployment. That's where I'm at," he told 60 Minutes.

The headlines were damning. Image: 60 Minutes.

"He is the wounded lion," his wife Rosa added.

"It's scary to realise that when someone can be taken to that edge to even go as far as taking their own life. That's really scary. That's what could happen in this scenario. It's not light entertainment for people's pleasure... it's deep, so deep and so cruel," she said.

It took 20 months for Jarratt's case to go to trial something he called "media death row".

He finally saw a courtroom in July 2019 and as his accuser gave evidence he found himself thinking, "How can you sit there and look at me and say that? How can you do that? How can you be so full of lies and say something so horrible about me?"

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Under cross-examination, the woman's version of events was contradictory and confused.

60 Minutes showed a frustrated Jarratt getting upset at the media coverage painting him as a "black evil thing" during the trial. He claimed his case wasn't getting balanced reporting.

Waiting to hear the result on July 5, Jarratt described what that felt like, "When the jury goes out it's the longest wait of your life. You don't know if it's five minutes, five hours or five days".

It took just 15 minutes for the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.

60 Minutes filmed the actor screaming and singing "freedom" as he walked down the street with his lawyer, and in tears as he hugged his two daughters Zhadia and Ebony.

john jarratt freedom
John Jarratt yelling "freedom" as he walked outside the courtroom with his lawyer. Image: 60 Minutes.

"He's not Wolf Creek. He's an actor in Wolf Creek, In real life, he's a victim," Jarratt's legal counsel Chris Murphy told the program.

In the wake of his ordeal, Jarratt wants the law changed. His accuser has been able to remain anonymous, while he was named to the media.

He wants the law to be that neither party is named unless someone is convicted.

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