Tuesday 20 March 2018

Prisoner: Cell Block H star Maggie Kirkpatrick escapes jail for child sex abuse

Maggie Kirkpatrick played a violent and corrupt warden nicknamed
Maggie Kirkpatrick played a violent and corrupt warden nicknamed "The Freak" in the cult Australian soap opera (AAP Image/AP)

Veteran Australian a ctress Maggie Kirkpatrick avoided jail when she was sentenced for molesting a 14-year-old devoted fan of Prisoner: Cell Block H more than 30 years ago.

The 74-year-old was convicted on Thursday at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on two counts of indecently assaulting the troubled girl in Kirkpatrick's Melbourne home in 1984 and one count of gross indecency.

Magistrate Peter Mealy told the grandmother of two today he would have sentenced her to prison if not for the fact that there had been no more offences since that single night in 1984.

Mr Mealy ordered her to perform 100 hours of community service and to undergo treatment programs designed for sex offenders.

She will remain on a sex offender register for eight years, during which she is banned from working with children and must keep police informed of her whereabouts.

He said Kirkpatrick had chosen a vulnerable victim and had shown no remorse.

The actress played a sadistic prison warden in the soap opera set in a women's prison, which was known as Prisoner in Australia, and Caged Women in some countries.

It ran from 1979 to 1986 and Kirkpatrick's character Joan "The Freak" Ferguson would molest inmates with the excuse of conducting body searches.

Sydney-based Kirkpatrick met the victim at a Melbourne psychiatric hospital where the girl had been treated for substance abuse and a personality disorder. The victim, now a 45-year-old mother of three, first went to police in 2013.

Kirkpatrick also appeared in the Australian television series All Saints, Pizza, Blue Heelers, Hey Dad! and Water Rats.

She declined to speak to the media when she left court.

Press Association

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