Maggie Kirkpatrick, known for her role as a warden in an Australian soap opera, has been convicted of molesting a teenager more than three decades ago. Maggie, whose character was called “The Freak” in that show portraying life in a prison for women, was found guilty of abusing a 14-year-old girl who was a psychiatric hospital patient. The molestation occurred in Kirkpatrick’s home, reported MSN.
Now 74, Maggie had sustained a successful career for years. The soap opera in which she starred spanned 1979 to 1986, and was known, depending on the country, as Prisoner, Prisoner: Cell Block H, or Caged Women. In the series, Kirkpatrick played a woman named Joan “The Freak” Ferguson who used body searches as an alibi for molesting inmates.
Although Maggie entered a plea of not guilty and contended that the charges were not true and were malicious, Kirkpatrick was found guilty of one count of gross indecency and two counts of indecently assaulting the teenager, who was a fan of the Prisoner show.
In addition to the Australian soap opera, Maggie was in a theater production of Wicked and on various TV series.
Kirkpatrrick’s defense attorney, Justine Hannebery, requested that rather than putting Maggie in prison, a community service order be imposed by the court. The request was not opposed by the prosecutors.
Consequently, the court chose to stipulate an 18-month community corrections order for Kirkpatrick, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
Based on the sentence, Maggie must perform 100 hours of community service. Kirkpatrick will be on the sex offender registry for eight years. She also will be treated as a sex offender.
In discussing the situation, the magistrate described his desire to protect those who are vulnerable.
“The victim was a vulnerable 14-year-old child,” asserted the magistrate. “The vulnerable in our society need to be protected.”
As to why the teenage girl did not report the sexual abuse previously, she feared that she would not be believed. As a result, she delayed until telling police what happened.
In explaining the reason why Kirkpatrick did not have to head to prison, the court commented that it had been 30 years without any other allegations.
However, the magistrate Peter Mealy also cautioned Maggie that the police had the authority to use reasonable force to restrain her when they took the DNA forensic sample that she was required to submit.
“I agree to the community directions order, your honour,” said Kirkpatrick.
[Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images]