Home / Arts / Geoffrey Rush allegedly \’touched actress\’ breasts, lower back\

Geoffrey Rush allegedly \’touched actress\’ breasts, lower back\

The actress at the centre of Geoffrey Rush’s defamation case against The Daily Telegraph claims the Oscar winner touched her breasts and back, a court has heard.

Rush is suing the newspaper’s publisher Nationwide News and reporter Johnathan Moran over articles alleging he engaged in inappropriate behaviour while performing in a Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production of King Lear.

The trial was due to start next month, but has been delayed because Eryn-Jean Norvill — the actress at the centre of The Daily Telegraph’s allegations — has been added to the newspaper’s witness list.

A document submitted by Rush’s legal team reveals for the first time the extent of the allegations against him.

The allegations include that in October 2015, during rehearsals, Rush “made groping gestures in the air about the complainant’s torso” and made “comments … which contained sexual innuendo” as well as “lewd gestures”.

The documents allege that during a pre-performance the actor’s “hand traced across the side of the complainant’s right breast”.

They also claimed he “touched the complainant’s lower back under her shirt to her waistline”.

When he allegedly did it again, on another occasion, “she told him to stop and he did”, the document claimed.

Rush’s legal team submitted that the allegations could not be considered “scandalously inappropriate”.

“None of this material, at its highest, could be regarded as ‘scandalously inappropriate’ or amount to ‘sexual assault’,” the document said.

“It could also not result in a finding that [Rush] is a ‘pervert’ or a ‘sexual predator'”.

Norvill was Rush’s co-star in a 2015-16 production of King Lear.

Her statement detailing Rush’s alleged inappropriate behaviour was today tendered to the Federal Court, however it will not be made public.

Justice Michael Wigney questioned Norvill’s decision to come forward at such a late stage, “after indicating for some months she didn’t want to co-operate”.

The newspaper’s lawyer Alec Leopold SC argued Norvill was “relatively junior actor” who “would be reluctant to come out” against Rush who was a “very senior, indeed iconic, actor”.

‘They’ve been looking under stones’

Justice Wigney said when The Daily Telegraph had published the stories last year, it had “plainly not spoken to the actress” and “not secured her co-operation”.

In response, the newspaper’s lawyer, Alec Leopold SC, argued the media could operate on “hearsay” and was not bound by the same laws of evidence in a courtroom.

Rush’s lawyer Sue Chrysanthou said it was completely inappropriate for The Daily Telegraph to publish the articles without Norvill’s co-operation.

“She didn’t want the article to proceed,” Ms Chrysanthou said.

The actor’s lawyer said her client was looking forward to the trial starting.

“Now we know what they did have was rubbish,” Ms Chrysanthou said.

“They’ve been looking under stones for eight months.”

The trial is now expected to start at the end of October.

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