Amid concerns over some of the themes in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” one of the supporting actors in the film franchise has been convicted of multiple counts of child sex abuse.
Zara Phythian, 37, and her husband Victor Marke, 59, were both convicted of 14 and 18 counts, respectively, according to Nottingham Crown Court documents provided to Entertainment Weekly. The charges involving Phythian — who was tried under her husband’s last name — stemmed from illicit sexual interaction with a child from December 2005 to December 2008. Marke is facing additional charges dating back to September 2002.
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Marke’s crimes include indecent assault of a 15-year-old child while both he and Phythian are guilty of multiple counts of illegal sexual activity with another underage girl, beginning when she was just 13 years old.
It’s worth noting that, while Phythian had a small role as “Brunette Zealot” in the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Doctor Strange,” she did not reappear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Of the convictions, Nicole Hepburn of the Crown Prosecution Service said, “This abuse may have occurred some years ago, but that makes it no less serious and nor is it a barrier to justice. I would encourage anyone who has been abused in the past to come forward with the knowledge that the CPS will take your case seriously.”
Judge Mark Watson remanded Phythian and Marke into custody pending their May 16 sentencing hearing. At the end of the trial, he told the couple their sentence “is likely to be measured by a considerable period of custody.”
Phythian denied engaging in any sexual activity with one of the victims, according to the BBC. Marke, for his part, claimed the sexual abuse happened only once and that his wife was not involved in it.
Authorities in the U.K. found out about the allegations against Phythian and Marke after their victims — who are adults now — reported the abuse to police years after it took place. The victims said some of the encounters were recorded on video.
The survivors’ admissions and the trial “exposed” Phythian and Mark “as the true liars,” Hepburn said.
All of this comes amid furor with The Walt Disney Company, which owns the MCU. Disney is certainly not responsible in any way for Phythian’s crimes and has nothing at all to do with this case. From a PR perspective, though, the timing of this development is less than desirable.
Disney has been caught in a political and cultural firestorm ever since CEO Bob Chapek came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, drawing the ire of parents in the Sunshine State and across the country.
The entertainment brand’s unflinching opposition to the bill prohibiting teachers from instructing kids in pre-K through third-grade classrooms about sexual orientation and gender identity prompted the Florida state legislature and ultimately Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to strip the company of its self-governing privileges.
DeSantis said he is “not comfortable having one company with their own government and special privileges when that company has pledged itself to attacking the parents in my state.” He was referring to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a unique agreement established in 1967 between the Florida government and The Walt Disney Company.
Christian leaders have voiced their concerns about Disney, too.
The Rev. Franklin Graham argued last month “LGBTQ activists are using corporations to force their agenda on the public, and companies may want to take another look at what they are allowing to happen,” adding “Disney has gone too far.”
He went on to assert the backlash against Disney is due to the company’s decision to come out “against the parents of Florida.”
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