Playing happy families – ‘Hey Dad’ sex scandal

Happy families - Hey Dad sex scandalThey say families that play together stay together but what happens when that line crosses over into sexual abuse? Allegations came to light this week that Sarah Monahan who played ‘Jenny’ on Hey Dad, one of Australia’s longest running and most successful TV shows, was molested on the set from the age of nine.

This person was named by ACA to be Robert Hughes, the man who played her TV father. Monahan last night told ACA she was 10 or 12 when she confided in Simone Buchanan who played her onscreen sister, about the sexual abuse . Buchanan said she took on the role of Monahan’s protector and also accused Hughes of “inappropriately touching” her while driving her home after filming when she was 18.

Actor Ben Oxenbould who played Sarah’s brother on the show, which ran from 1987 to 1994 told ACA that he notified the show’s executive producer, Gary Reilly, after he saw Hughes allegedly touch a young girl inappropriately. Gary Reilly has denied all knowledge of the sexual abuse even though he provided a chaperone for Angela Keep who replaced Jenny aged 12.

Other huge stars of the show, Julie Mcgregor and Chris Truswell who played Nudge on the show played dumb on ACA (not a stretch if you have ever watched the show) and said they were unaware of the abuse. However, other actors and ex crew members have come forward saying it was an ‘open secret’ in the industry.

I’m not a fan of chequebook journalism but I think it was a good decision on Sarah’s behalf to take the media route to try and smoke out any other victims to back up her allegations. If Sarah had taken her story to the police, it could have easily been her story against his and swept under the red carpet.

And it’s worked. The Sunday Telegraph reported that the police will investigate at least eight new sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hughes by former cast members, crew and relatives and other victims.

People who knew about the abuse were threatened that they would not be able to work in the Australian television industry again. Sarah was the breadwinner in her family as her father passed away and undoubtedly was under a lot of pressure to keep her role on Hey Dad.

In my eyes, the real villians in society are the ones who look the other way … but how can you look yourself in the face when you know these abuses are happening whether it’s sexual abuse, sexual discrimination or office bullying. We all have something to learn from this.

I know we live in Australia where ‘dobbing in’ people and whistle blowing is frowned upon but when does your career ever come before the welfare of a young child?

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1 comment:

  1. Heidi McElnea, 29 March 2010, 11:07 pm

    What a great story. Honest and to the point.
    It is mind blowing that this was allowed to continue. It was some comfort that some of her fellow actors tried to support or speak up for her. It is the decent, and obvious thing to do.
    It was brave of Sarah to speak up. I applaud her.


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