Chinese movie star pleads not guilty to sexual assault in Australia

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Chinese movie actor Gao Yunxiang and a producer pleaded not guilty in an Australian court on Friday to charges of sexual assault, setting the course for a trial later this year, a court official said.

Chinese actor Gao Yunxiang leaves the Downing Centre court in Sydney, Australia January 25, 2019. AAP Image/Joel Carrett/via REUTERS

Gao and Chinese producer Wang Jing both entered the pleas during a short procedural hearing at the New South Wales state District Court and a judge booked the matter for a six-week trial starting in October, the court spokeswoman told Reuters.

The 36-year-old star of Chinese television programs “Goddess of Mercy” and “Legend of Mi Yue” and his producer were charged with aggravated sexual assault and depriving a woman of her liberty, as well as related crimes over an incident at a Sydney hotel in March 2018, according to Australian media.

The incident allegedly took place at the Shangri-La hotel after a wrap party for a television series, “Love in Aranya”, which the men had been shooting in Sydney, media said.

Gao was not available for comment.

The complainant’s identity has not made public, as Australian law bars media from identifying complainants in sex crimes.

Gao’s bail continued on Friday. Australian media have said he paid A$3 million ($2.1 million) as bail surety and his bail conditions included wearing an electronic bracelet, a nightly curfew and a ban on going within 100 meters of Sydney Airport.

The producer was not given bail, and remained in custody.

A pretrial hearing has been set for Sept. 6, with the trial to begin on Oct. 21.

($1=1.4092 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Byron Kaye

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