An actor described as “the Hugh Jackman of China” will remain behind bars in Sydney after being refused bail over an alleged sexual assault.
Yunxiang Gao has pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault, which are alleged to have occurred at Sydney’s Shangri La hotel early in the morning on March 27.
Another man has been charged over the same incident.
Magistrate Sharon Freund noted the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and refused bail.
“The facts alleged against Mr Gao by the prosecution make a very sobering read,” she said.
Gao’s lawyer argued his client was “the Hugh Jackman of China” and he would be happy to comply with strict bail conditions because fleeing Australia would “ruin his career”.
He is starring in a soon-to-be-released film alongside one of China’s most prominent actresses, Fan Bing Bing.
Sydney’s Central Local Court today heard the victim was a woman who working on the production of a film that Gao was shooting in Australia.
The prosecution said “the facts disclose quite clearly the deprivation of the claimant’s liberty” and said the victim reported the alleged crime immediately, had bruising on her legs and evidence gathered by police included a tissue with semen.
Scrum to stake out spot in packed court room
Dozens of Chinese media outlets and fans packed the court for the hearing, but many were forced to wait outside the court room itself as security guards let in only a few dozen, citing lack of space.
The New South Wales justice department said the room was “absolutely at capacity”.
There were heated scenes as Chinese and Australian media tried to get into the room and guards pushed back crowds and threatened to forcibly remove anyone who got too close to the court doors.
Chinese journalists attending the hearing said while Gao was only moderately well known, the court case had elevated his celebrity back home and there was growing interest in the case.
He appeared in court via video link, looking concerned and dismayed at times as the hearing proceeded.
Gao’s wife, Chinese actor Xuan Dong sat in court to watch proceedings, where his lawyers made a bail application.
The prosecution argued if Gao or his co-accused fled Australia there is no extradition treaty with China so it would be impossible to compel him to return for a trial.
The prosecution also argued there was a “real risk of pressure being exerted on the complainant” if Gao were granted bail.
The case continues.