Witness X revealed: Yael Stone named in Rush hearing
Orange Is The New Black actor Yael Stone has been named as the mystery Witness X whose evidence was not allowed to be heard in the Geoffrey Rush defamation trial.
Justice Michael Wigney lifted a suppression order over the actor's name during a hearing in the Supreme Court today which began the process of settling on a figure for Mr Rush's damages for lost earnings.
Ms Stone spoke out in December, after the trial had concluded, and told the ABC and New York Times that Mr Rush watched her in the shower and danced naked in front of her, which he denied.
Mr Rush sued The Daily Telegraph over a series of articles in late 2017 which said he had been the subject of a complaint of inappropriate conduct during a Sydney Theatre Company production.
The newspaper is appealing against Justice Wigney's April verdict in favour of Mr Rush and claims the $850,000 already awarded for the damage to his reputation is excessive.
The newspaper has cited 16 grounds in support of its claim that the trial miscarried and that Justice Michael Wigney's conduct of the case "gave rise to an apprehension of bias."
Today it also indicated that it will ask Justice Wigney step down from hearing the outstanding issues in the case because of the appeal, which will be determined at a further hearing on May 20.
One of the grounds which the newspaper says demonstrates apprehended bias is Justice Wigney's refusal to allow Ms Stone's evidence to be heard. During the trial he said her evidence would require Mr Rush to be recalled at a later date to face fresh allegations, which would cause him prejudice.
"From the very first case management hearing it was made abundantly clear that Mr Rush, not surprisingly, was very anxious to have this case heard at the earliest opportunity," he said at the time.
In December, after the trial had concluded, Ms Stone told the ABC how she and the Hollywood star shared a dressing room while they performed together in the play Diary of a Madman in Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre in 2010. At the time she was 25 and he was 59.
She said she was in the shower when "I looked up and saw a small shaving mirror being held over the top of the cubicle, to be used in a way to look down at my naked body.
"I believe it was made in the spirit of a joke. The fact is it made me incredibly uncomfortable.
"I think I dealt with it by words to the effect of, 'bugger off, Geoffrey'."
Mr Rush denied Ms Stone's allegations.
Ms Stone spoke about the power imbalance in the theatre workplace and the difficulty of "walking a very delicate line where I needed to manage these uncomfortable moments but never, never offend him.
"This was a huge star," she said. "What were they going to do? Fire Geoffrey and keep me?"
On another occasion she told the ABC: "He came in from the shower holding his towel and he was naked and he danced around in front of me with his penis out … his penis was probably 40-45cm from my face.
"I've been in that particular dressing room in Sydney on many occasions with many wonderfully talented actors and many wonderfully talented clowns. And people have made me belly laugh till I couldn't breathe. Never once has someone needed to show me their penis to do that," she said.
Ms Stone said she received a string of increasingly suggestive text messages from Mr Rush who also touched her back "in a very sensual manner for an extended period" that was "unwanted" at an awards show.
The Shine star also put his lips very close to her and invited her "in a physically intimate way" to come home with him. "There was no mistaking what that invitation meant," said Ms Stone, who declined the invitation.
Ms Stone spoke out after Mr Rush ignored an email she sent him after he began defamation proceedings late in 2017. "I reached out to Geoffrey privately and wrote a letter that basically said, 'I've struggled a lot with the relationship that we've had'," she said.
"I wrote in the conclusion of that email, that this was written in the spirit of healing and that I hoped we could come together privately and work through it. Unfortunately I didn't receive any response."
After Ms Stone's allegations were published Rush issued a statement through his lawyers saying her allegations were "incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context.
"However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work," he said. "I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention.