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Craig McLachlan ousted from The Rocky Horror Show

Craig McLachlan will no longer appear on stage as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, with producers The Gordon Frost Organisation announcing it is “not appropriate” for him to continue in light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations against him.

Earlier today, a joint investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC alleged McLachlan indecently assaulted, sexually harassed and bullied female co-stars in a 2014 production of the show.

McLachlan allegedly exposed himself, touched women’s genitals and groped their breasts, according to reports today

McLachlan refuted allegations by Fairfax Media and the ABC saying they were “all made up” and “baseless”.

Fairfax’s story included allegations that complaints to The Gordon Frost Organisation company “fell on deaf ears”, but the production company sent out a statement this afternoon saying it was “shocked” to learn of the recent allegations.

The statement also announced McLachlan would no longer appear in the production.

“We take these allegations very seriously, and have always endeavoured to prioritise a safe working environment,” the statement said.

“In response, we have spoken to Craig and have mutually agreed that it is not appropriate for him to continue in the current production of the show. We will be conducting a full internal investigation and will cooperate fully with authorities.

“While we clearly cannot comment on the details of this particular case, sexual assault in any form is unacceptable, and we will work diligently within this industry to support the right of all people to be protected in the workplace, and stand by those who are victims of inappropriate behaviour.”

The production company also attempted to clarify media reports, denying they were aware of “any details” of the allegations against McLachlan until Fairfax Media and the ABC published them today.

“We received correspondence from a law firm shortly before Christmas, however this contained no details of the claims or the claimants. The response from our lawyers was based on this lack of information and was not in any way directed at the women who have come forward and made these allegations.

“We can also confirm that our records show the claimants at no time made any complaint – formal or informal – to the company manager or executive producer of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014. Furthermore no one at GFO recalls any verbal discussion of this nature. It would be distressing to us if anyone within our company was dismissive of sexual assault allegations, and this will form a part of our internal investigation.”

The company went on to explain it has rigorous rules, guidelines and procedures in place.

“These events will not affect the production across Australia of the Rocky Horror Show, and our excellent cast are looking forward to continuing to bring this production to Australian audiences as per the current schedule.”

Veteran journalist Tracey Spicer told Mumbrella today there was a “duty of care” issue that needed to be addressed by theatre companies.

“A lot of the theatre companies and productions houses are really cracking down and saying if you speak out we’ll sue you for defamation. There’s a lot of very scared young women out there and I hope that this story that we’ve published today and will be broadcast tonight will encourage other women of the entertainment industry to come forth with their stories.

“If they don’t address it, there are going to be some pretty serious lawsuits happening over the next couple of years,” she said.

“I do believe that things are changing but they’re not changing quickly enough. The first response is still to shut these allegations down rather than dealing with them in an appropriate manner, following the policies and procedures that most of these organisations have in place.”

The Gordon Frost Organisation’s decision to remove McLachlan from production comes as Seven seeks an “urgent update” from producers December Media on its upcoming series The Doctor Blake Mysteries – in which McLachlan is the lead actor.

The ABC had previously axed The Doctor Blake Mysteries, saying the time was right to bring it to an end. In October, Seven revealed it would save the McLachlan-fronted program, but speculation is now mounting around whether the production will go ahead.

McLachlan is the second high-profile local media personality to be accused of indecent behaviour in two months after Spicer launched an investigation into the Australian media industry. In late November, Don Burke was accused of sexually harassing a string of female colleagues throughout his career.

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