An actress who starred in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” movie, as well as her husband, were convicted Wednesday by a British court of sexual crimes against a minor.
The married couple, 37-year-old actress Zara Phythian and 59-year-old martial arts coach Victor Marke, faced multiple charges related to allegations they had denied of repeatedly having sex with a girl between the ages of 13 and 15, the Daily Caller reported.
It is unclear at this point just how long their prison sentences will be following a jury’s decision to convict, but the judge overseeing the case reportedly warned the duo that they likely faced a “considerable period in custody” once the sentencing hearing was held.
Guilty of sexual abuse of a minor
The Nottingham Post reported that it only took the jury a little more than one day to deliver guilty verdicts for Phythian, who also goes by her husband’s surname, and Marke for engaging in multiple sexual acts with a minor.
The now-adult victim in this case was only 13 when the abuse began and she testified that it started with the married couple giving her rum and then demonstrating sexual acts in front of her, including oral sex and full intercourse.
That led to a game of “dare” in which the girl was encouraged to join in and emulate Phythian’s actions, according to the victim, and she further claimed that the actress had “coached” her in how to better engage in the sexual activities. She also estimated that she had engaged in sexual activities with Marke on at least 20 separate occasions over a couple of years.
The married couple faced 14 criminal charges related to the sexual abuse of the young girl, some of which was filmed, while Marke faces an additional four charges of “indecent assault” against a different teenage girl.
Sentencing set for May 16
The New York Post reported that Phythian, who played a sorceress in Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” had denied all of the charges against her while her husband Marke had admitted to having had sex with the victim, though he insisted that she had been 18 at the time and that his wife had not been involved.
The actress was described as being visibly upset and in tears after the verdict was announced and she was remanded into custody.
According to the Nottingham Post, Phythian’s attorney, James Varley, said in a statement that his client was “going to face a custodial sentence” but noted that she had previously been released on bail and asked the court for a brief period in which she could settle her affairs prior to sentencing, which is scheduled to take place May 16.
Prosecutor and detective praise verdict
“Both defendants have denied their actions, instead blaming the victims and accusing them of lying,” prosecutor Nicole Hepburn said. “Thanks to their evidence, given clearly and credibly in court, the Markes themselves have been exposed as the true liars.”
“This was a long and complex investigation made all the more challenging by the sheer volume of digital data we had to retrieve and examine, and the number of witnesses that were spoken to,” Nottinghamshire Detective Constable Paula Wilson said. “Like all perpetrators of sexual abuse, the Markes were eventually undone by the determination of the victims who showed bravery and strength in coming forward and seeing this case through to the end.”