- Associated Press - Monday, November 18, 2019

SYDNEY (AP) - Australian actor Craig McLachlan kissed a female co-star’s neck, stomach and buttocks more than 20 times during a scene in a stage musical in which he was meant to merely simulate a sex act, a prosecutor told a court Monday.

Details of allegations brought by four women against the former star of long-running Australian hit soap operas “Neighbours” and “Home and Away” were aired in the Melbourne Magistrates Court at a hearing expected to last three weeks.

McLachlan, 54, is facing multiple charges, including counts of indecent assault, one of attempted indecent assault and others of assault, involving the four complainants who worked with him in a production of “The Rocky Horror Show” in 2014. He won Australian theater’s prestigious Helpmann Award for best actor for the role.

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He denies the accusations by the four women, whose names cannot be published.

Prosecution lawyer Matt Fisher alleged McLachlan “went beyond the role he was directed to perform” in relation to the allegations.

He said McLachlan assaulted one female co-star during the scene in which he was meant to be simulating a sex act, which took place out of sight of the audience.

Aside from kissing her more than 20 times, McLachlan had once use his finger to trace the outline of the woman’s genitals, Fisher told the court.

“(The woman) felt as if she was trapped,” he said.

McLachlan has also been accused of pushing his groin into the stomach area of another woman. He also kissed the woman during a show, without being directed to do so, forcing his tongue into her mouth.

Fisher told the court the woman had allegedly said to McLachlan: “Don’t you ever do that to me again.”

McLachlan had allegedly replied: “Don’t you dare speak to me like that. You are nothing, I will end you.”

McLachlan’s lawyer Stuart Littlemore will argue some of the alleged incidents didn’t occur, while others weren’t indecent.

He said when McLachlan had given a woman an unexpected kiss on stage, he had the “license and discretion to ad lib.”

The four alleged victims will give evidence about the incidents in a closed court.

After the women’s allegations were published, McLachlan initiated defamation proceedings against Fairfax Media, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., and a former co-star. That case has been delayed until after the criminal charges are resolved.

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