Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a troubled teenage fan in the 1980s, but the 74-year-old is unlikely to go to jail.
Lawyers for the NSW actress told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday she’s eligible for a community corrections order and prosecutors didn’t disagree.
Justin Hannebery, for Kirkpatrick, said the abuse was a single incident of limited duration that did not involve penetration, violence, or the threat of violence.
“Mrs Kirkpatrick is entitled to the benefit of 31 years without similar matters,” Mr Hannebery told the court.
Kirkpatrick was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one charge of committing a gross act with a person under 16.
The incidents occurred at a Prahran house the Sydney-based actress had rented while in Melbourne filming the television show Prisoner.
Her portrayal of the character Joan “The Freak” Ferguson had made her a household name in Australia, winning her scores of fans, including the 14-year-old girl from Melbourne.
In 1984, the girl was a patient at a psychiatric hospital where she befriended a woman who also worked on the show.
The woman arranged a meeting with Kirkpatrick, and the actress collected the fan from the hospital and took her to her house for dinner.
After she’d cooked for the girl and they’d watched some television, they went to Kirkpatrick’s bedroom where the actress sexually abused the girl.
When the allegations were aired last month, Kirkpatrick said she would fight them.
She told police in an interview they were malicious and untrue, and to hear what the girl was alleging made her ill.
But Magistrate Peter Mealy ruled the victim’s testimony was truthful.
He noted there were inconsistencies in the timing of some events in the victim’s testimony, but he was satisfied the passage of 30 years was the cause of the mistake.
“I am satisfied that she is a witness of truth,” Mr Mealy said.
Kirkpatrick did not comment on the ruling outside court.
She will be assessed for a community corrections order and will return to court on Friday morning.