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Australian actress Eryn Jean Norvill alleged that Geoffrey Rush made “groping gestures in the air with two cupped hands” that simulated “fondling” her breasts during rehearsals for King Lear in 2015, in documents tendered to the Federal Court of Australia on Thursday.
Norvill’s statement is part of News Corp. tabloid The Daily Telegraph’s amended defense in the defamation suit Rush has brought against the newspaper after it published a complaint of inappropriate behavior by the actor during the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear between 2015 and 2016.
Rush has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Norvill, who had previously declined to provide a statement to the court, last month agreed to give evidence for the Daily Telegraph at the upcoming trial.
Her decision allows the News Corp. tabloid to argue a defense of truth. Rush’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou did not oppose the newspaper’s application to include the truth defense but said “it should not be seen as acceptance of the claim by him.”
In the document, The Daily Telegraph’s defense lists a series of incidents which their legal team argues show Rush “engaged in conduct of a kind in which only a pervert would engage” and engaged in “sexually predatory behaviour.”
The document alleges that Rush touched Norvill’s breast during preview performances and moved his hand under her shirt and along the waistline of her jeans to touch the skin of her lower back in a “deliberate” way when they were about to go onstage, in separate incidents.
The new defense means the trial has been delayed seven weeks. It will now start in October and is expected to run for 13 days.
Rush’s barrister says the delays are causing Rush “continuing trauma.”
“Mr Rush is suffering continuing trauma because of these proceedings and because of the allegations, so the delay of seven weeks is maybe not a big deal to News Limited, but it is a big deal to him,” she told the federal court last week.
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