Maggie Kirkpatrick found guilty of sex abuse

Actor Maggie Kirkpatrick is found guilty of sexually abusing a teenage girl more than 30 years ago. Vision courtesy Network Ten
Maggie Kirkpatrick, a star of the Australian TV soap opera Prisoner, has been found guilty of sexually abusing a teenage girl more than 30 years ago.
Kirkpatrick, 74, was on Thursday found guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one charge of gross indecency with a person under 16.
Melbourne Magistrates Court was told Kirkpatrick met a 14-year-old fan in 1984 while the teenager was being treated in a psychiatric hospital for substance abuse and a personality disorder.
Maggie Kirkpatrick outside court. Maggie Kirkpatrick outside court. Photo: Penny Stephens
Kirkpatrick invited the teenager to her home one night in June or July 1984, and shared a meal, before the actress sexually assaulted the girl in a bedroom.
The court was closed when the victim gave evidence on Wednesday, but later heard that the victim was given a yellow jumper and a signed photograph after she was abused.
Kirkpatrick drove the girl back to the hospital after the incident.
Maggie Kirkpatrick as Joan Ferguson, aka 'The Freak', in <i>Prisoner</i>. Maggie Kirkpatrick as Joan Ferguson, aka 'The Freak', in Prisoner.
The victim reported the offending to police in 2013, having previously thought she would be considered "crazy" and that no one would believe her allegations.
Magistrate Peter Mealy said he considered the victim a witness of truth and found the charges were proven.
The victim's husband said his wife had spoken of the offending in the mid-2000s and identified the perpetrator as "the nasty one from Prisoner".
Kirkpatrick is best known for playing lesbian prison officer Joan Ferguson, nicknamed "The Freak", on the popular 1980s soapie Prisoner.
The Albury-born actor has also appeared in other Australian TV shows, including Hey Dad!, Blue Heelers and Home and Away, All Saints and Water Rats. More recently, she scored a role as Madame Morrible in the Australian production of the musical Wicked.
Defence counsel Justin Hannebery said Kirkpatrick, who lives in Sydney, had been acting for 54 years and had just finished a seven-year run of Wicked.
Mr Hannebery said the offending related to a "single incident of limited standing" and did not involve penetration or threats of physical violence.
He called on Mr Mealy to spare Kirkpatrick a jail term and instead impose a community corrections order.
Kirkpatrick had pleaded not guilty to the three charges and denied the allegations in an interview with police last year.
The grandmother of two did not react when the magistrate found her guilty. She left court without comment.
Her lawyer also declined to comment when asked about the prospects of an appeal.
Kirkpatrick is due to return to court on Friday for sentencing.