- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Veteran actress Maggie Kirkpatrick, who played a violent and corrupt warden nicknamed “The Freak” in a cult Australian soap opera set in a women’s prison, appeared in court Wednesday charged with molesting a 13-year-old psychiatric hospital patient in her home more than 30 years ago.

The series was known as “Prisoner” in Australia, and “Prisoner: Cell Block H” or “Caged Women” overseas. It ran from 1979 to 1986.

Kirkpatrick, 74, whose character Joan “The Freak” Ferguson would molest inmates with the excuse of conducting body searches, was charged in Melbourne Magistrates Court with two counts of indecently assaulting the young “Prisoner” fan in the 1984 and one count of gross indecency with a person under 16.

Kirkpatrick told police in a recorded interview played to the court on Wednesday that she was astonished by the allegations that she described as malicious and untrue.

Kirkpatrick gasped and put her head in her hand as police read details of the allegations.

“It’s making me feel quite sick,” Kirkpatrick said in the video.

She told police that she met the alleged victim when the girl was a patient at a Melbourne psychiatric hospital suffering substance abuse problems. They met through a TV producer who was also a patient at the hospital.

Kirkpatrick said in the police interview that she took the girl to her Melbourne home for dinner and to watch television. But Kirkpatrick said she sent the teen back to the hospital in a taxi after catching her helping herself to alcohol.

The alleged victim first went to police with her allegations in 2013.

Police Detective Senior Constable Katherine Mitchell told the court that the girl said in her police statement “they had a meal and ended up in Kirkpatrick’s bedroom.”

The hearing continues on Thursday.

While Kirkpatrick’s most famous role was in “Prisoner,” she has since appeared in the Australian television series “All Saints,” ”Pizza,” ”Hey Dad!,” ”Blue Heelers” and “Water Rats.”

Kirkpatrick, who now lives in Sydney, recently played a stage role in Australia in the musical “Wicked.”

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