Australian actor John Jarratt has called for changes to the laws surrounding the identification of alleged perpetrators of crimes after his 20 months of suffering after being accused of rape.
Speaking exclusively with 60-minute reporter Tara Brown, Jarratt revealed not only the destruction the widely reported case had caused to his career, but also the damage to his mental health and the well-being of his extended family.
"You get up every morning and it's there. You can't do anything about it," he told Brown.
"I call it media's death row. You're just stuck in it, and it's nothing you can do about it."
Last week, Jarratt was found not guilty of rape.
At 60 minutes of cameras, unprecedented access was granted to Jarratt's rape trial; they captured the highs and lows of a case that could have seen Jarratt sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in prison.
In 2017, Jarratt was accused of raping his former roommate more than four decades earlier, in 1976. The accuser – who has automatic anonymity according to the law – shared a home with then 23-year-old Jarratt and his two-year-old wife, Rosa Miano, in Sydney's Randwick.
Jarratt told Brown that he learned of the charges at the beginning of the complaint – to the media, not to the police. He immediately shaken and devastated his devoted wife.
"The shock begins," Mrs. Miano said at the time they received the call to inform them of the accusation.
"It's very traumatic and you only know that it will be so public and it's such a personal thing."
Jarratt told the details of the indicted charges made against him at 60 minutes.
"You (the accuser) say that I went home drunk at 3 am. I threw open the door and woke it up by tearing off the sheet and blanket from the bed, then tearing off her underpants and shirt at once.
"And then without undressing, I had climbed to the top of this woman holding her hands, arms lowered, holding her legs lowered and then holding my hand over her mouth and somehow raped, completely dressed and then dropped. he made a sound and that's how he described it, which is absolutely ridiculous. "
Jarratt vehemently denied the rape accusation, however revealed to Brown, with some shame, that night in 1976 he was unfaithful in his marriage.
"It's really stupid. I was only 23. It's a stupid immaturity," Jarratt said.
"What was I thinking? My wife was in another room. It was a pretty stupid thing to do."
Jarratt claimed to have had consenting sex, a one-night adventure with his former roommate while his wife slept in a nearby room.
"He started to say how exciting it is to be in the movies and he found me attractive, which is pretty seductive," he told Brown.
"I weakened, and one thing led to another and I had consenting sex with the person, and then I returned to my wife. And I felt guilty and remorse and I just made a big mistake" .
Eight years after infidelity, Jarratt told his wife – the mother of their two daughters – not under the threat of a rape accusation, but rather to bring honesty to their then troubled marriage.
"It is shocking to know that a friend has betrayed you," said Miano.
"It is shocking to know that your husband betrayed you. But we were able to overcome it."
Jarratt told Brown that the charge – made at the height of his acting career, when he played Mick Taylor on the Wolf Creek television series – came at the worst time.
"The accusation was made in the year that the Me Too movement was going crazy," he said.
"When I got the call, I was in the Wolf Creek series of two, 65 and on top of my profession, having worked with me for 40 odd years.
"I feel that this person has looked at all this and thought: this guy is doing everything right. This is my opinion that I think he thought, make fun of John Jarratt because he plays a psychopathic serial killer."
Jarratt claims that the indicted charges have virtually destroyed his career and he has been out of work for 20 months until his day in court. An endless time to live with the stench of being a suspected rapist.
Jarratt's trial began on Monday, July 1, when his accuser provided his court account via video link.
Without physical evidence and the alleged attack a long time ago, the jury could only judge one word against another – a classic "he said, he said."
Under cross-examination, the version presented by the complainant was often contradictory.
He admitted, despite the attack, a long friendship going on with Jarratt and his wife, including sharing breakfast with the couple the morning after she was allegedly raped and going on vacation with his wife.
In court, the woman said years later that she told Miano she had been raped by her husband.
Mrs. Miano said 60 minutes while remembering the call, there was no mention of rape.
"It was just a night, and nothing … but," What a bastard. What a cheat. He betrayed you with me, "he told Brown.
"It was sex. It was an infidelity."
On Friday 5 July, the jury withdrew to consider the evidence presented in the case against Jarratt. After only 15 minutes of deliberation, they reached a unanimous verdict: not guilty.
While Jarratt told 60 Minutes that he and his extended family are elated by the verdict, he believes that the damage that has been done to his reputation is still profound, caused largely by the initial media attention he has attracted at the time of the undisputed accusation.
Jarratt now demands that the law be changed, so neither side is identified unless someone is convicted.
"I happen to be known, which makes it a million times worse," he told Brown.
"The person who is the author of an evil lie goes away without an order of suppression. It is wrong."
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