Australian actress Maggie Kirkpatrick was convicted of child abuse in an Australian court. The sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Veteran actress Maggie Kirkpatrick who played prison warden Joan “The Freak” Ferguson in a cult Australian soap opera set in a women’s prison has been convicted of abusing a psychiatric patient in her home more than 30 years ago. Kirkpatrick was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency on a person under 16, reported Yahoo.
74-years-old Maggie Kirkpatrick starred in the series known as Prisoner. It was a soap opera set in a women’s prison. It ran from 1979 to 1986 and has even had some international acclaim. While overseas, the series ran under the pseudonym Prisoner: Cell Block H or Caged Women. Her role in the series that ran for 400 episodes needs special mention because the actress’s crimes eerily mirror her onscreen persona. Kirkpatrick’s character Joan “The Freak” Ferguson was a sadistic and violent warden, who would abuse and molest inmates under the guise of conducting body searches.
The actress had strongly denied the allegations, including assaulting the young Prisoner fan in 1984 that is the root of the case. However the magistrate didn’t consider her appeal and said he believed the victim to be a truthful witness, reported Sport Act. After a hearing that lasted a little more than a day, Magistrate Peter Mealy found her guilty of all charges.
Though the sentencing is scheduled to happen tomorrow, it is unlikely the actress will face jail-time because prosecutors have reached a consensus about a non-custodial sentence. Additionally, her defense lawyer Justine Hannebery had appealed to the court to impose a much less severe community service order rather than a prison term, reported Sydney Morning Herald. Given her age, this too could be mild, and the court could be quite lenient, despite the nature of the crimes.
Incidentally, Maggie Kirkpatrick is the third celebrity from the 80s to be convicted of child abuse in under a year’s time. Last year, 66-years-old Robert Hughes, the star of Hey Dad, a hugely popular sitcom down under, was sentenced to almost 11 years in prison for molesting young girls. Ironically, despite being almost eight years older than Kirkpatrick, 84-years-old Rolf Harris was sentenced to almost six years in a British prison for indecently assaulting four girls.
Child molestation is a huge and appalling crime. However, the actress stooped even lower when she targeted a psychiatric patient.
[Image Credit | Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images]