Australian actress in "Prisoner" charged with child abuse

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2015 11:58 PM
Australian actress in "Prisoner" charged with child abuse

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 a court Wednesday charged over child sex allegations dating back to the 1980s.

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 a 13-year-old girl in the 1980s and one count of gross indecency with a person under 16.

The court was closed Wednesday while the complainant testified.

A witness, who cannot be named, testified that he was told by the alleged victim that she had been invited to Kirkpatrick's house where "some sexual things happened."

The hearing was continuing.

When police laid charges last month, Kirkpatrick denied the allegation.

"I need to go to court to have this ridiculous situation quashed," the Sydney-based actress told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"Allegations have been levelled at me, yes. Are they true? Absolutely not," she said.

While her most famous role was in "Prisoner," Kirkpatrick has since appeared in Australian television series "All Saints," ''Pizza," ''Hey Dad!," ''Blue Heelers" and "Water Rats."

She recently played a stage role in Australia in the musical "Wicked."