Craig McLachlan says he dropped his defamation lawsuit because of the ‘overwhelming’ strain it placed on him and his family.
The actor, 56, released a statement on Friday after NSW Supreme Court was told he would no longer be suing the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald and actor Christie Whelan-Browne.
‘The strain that this case has put on me and, more importantly, my family, has been utterly overwhelming,’ McLachlan said.
‘I cannot continue to place my family under that strain, and my own mental health will not withstand the continuing pressure.’
Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson discharged the jury after the actor’s barrister Kieran Smark SC applied for leave to discontinue the proceedings.
The statement came on the same day the first of 11 women were to give evidence against the actor.
On left – BEFORE: Craig McLachlan with his partner Vanessa Scammell in 2016 – before he launched his ‘overwhelming’ lawsuit. On right – AFTER, this year, as he drops his lawsuit
McLachlan walked away on Friday from the lawsuit taken out against the ABC, Nine Network and actor Christie Whelan-Browne
The judge told the jurors there had been ‘a significant development’ in the case with the actor deciding not to proceed further.
McLachlan had been accused of touching, kissing and groping actresses without permission in the Rocky Horror stage production, Neighbours, City Homicide, and The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
In his evidence, the award-winning performer agreed he had brought sexual jokes and pranks to The Rocky Horror Show, including deep-throating bananas and masturbating crew members’ arms.
But he denied the allegations in the publications, and accused Whelan Browne and two other women of approaching the media for notoriety or money.
McLachlan and his wife, who had attended every day of the trial, were not present in court for the announcement.
McLachlan’s statement continued: ‘Ending the case now will finally bring an end to the four years we have endured since the publications were first made, as well as avoiding the need for other witnesses to have to endure the cross-examination process.
‘Along the way, I have been through a criminal trial, in which I was acquitted of all charges which were brought against me, and I look forward to restoring my health and spending more time with friends and family who have stood by me through this process.’
On Thursday, a friend of McLachlan’s told the court he was loved by everyone in the entertainment industry until he was shunned after media reports accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
‘I was fearing the worst,’ said actor Daniel Thompson, who became the second witness to testify to worrying the actor could take his life.
Describing McLachlan as ‘a very sensitive person’, Thompson said he had been very worried the reports would destroy him.
McLachlan agreed he had brought sexual jokes and pranks to The Rocky Horror Show, including deep-throating bananas and masturbating crew members’ arms.
But he has denied the allegations made in 2018, and accused Ms Whelan Browne and two other women of approaching the media for notoriety or money.
Mr Thompson, whose stage name is Danny Tesla, told the jury that up until about 2017 McLachlan had a very good reputation and was incredibly successful.
In January 2018 articles accused the actor of touching, kissing and groping actresses without permission in The Rocky Horror Show, Neighbours, City Homicide and The Doctor Blake Mysteries
‘In the industry everyone loved him including myself,’ he said.
But after the publications, he became very worried that McLachlan would take his own life.
The actor even told him: ‘One day I will have to tell you a funny story about an attempted suicide.’
‘It could easily have gone that way,’ Mr Thompson said. ‘I could tell this had shattered him.’
McLachlan also was shocked the way the industry turned its back on him including people who wouldn’t even talk to him again.