Zara Phythian, a martial arts instructors with a role in Marvel's Doctor Strange, is officially guilty of child sex abuse charges in the U.K., a court decided Wednesday. Phythian's husband, fellow martial artist Victor Marke, was also convicted. Pythian, 37, and Marke, 59, were accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl multiple times between 2005 and 2008.
Phythian was found guilty of 14 sexual offenses in Nottingham Crown Court, while Marke was found guilty of 18 offenses, reports BBC News. The prosecution said the two had "threesomes" with the young girl, starting when the victim was 13. Phythian and Marke allegedly abused the victim between 2005 and 2008. Marke was also accused of abusing another 15-year-old girl between 2002 and 2003.
During his testimony, Marke admitted to having sex with one of the girls but claimed she told him she was 18 at the time. He also denied Pythian was involved in the abuse. Marke also said there was only one sexual encounter, during which they kissed and performed oral sex.
Phythian denied having any sexual encounter with the first victim during her testimony. She said she was not present when the victim performed oral sex on Marke. She also denied allegations that Marke "directed" her to perform sex acts with the victim. "The sexual activity you have described did not happen and it has been fabricated," Pythian told the prosecution.
After the guilty verdict was read, Nicole Hepburn of the Crown Prosecution Service said Phythian and Marke were "Exposed as the true liars" during the trial. Hepburn urged other victims of sexual assault to come forward, even if the alleged assault happened years ago, as was the case here. "This abuse may have occurred some years ago, but that makes it no less serious and nor is it a barrier to justice," Hepburn said. "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."
Marke and Phythian were out on bail during the trial, but Judge Mark Watson remanded them until their sentencing hearing. The hearing was scheduled for May 16. "Both of you know the sentence I pass on 16 May is likely to be measured by a considerable period of custody," Watson said.
Phythian had a small part in Doctor Strange as Brunette Zealot and does not appear in the recently-released sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Her other credits include The Hike, Dragon Kingdom, Landlord: Time to Pay the Rent, and He Who Dares.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.