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'Doctor Strange' actor Zara Phythian sentenced to 8 years in U.K. child sex abuse case
The actor and stunt performer was convicted last week of sexually abusing a young teenage girl, along with her husband, Victor Marke.
This story originally appeared on Oxygen.com.
by Megan Carpentier
Zara Phythian, 37, was sentenced to eight years in prison by Nottingham Crown Court Judge Mark Watson, according to the BBC. Pythian had a minor role in the first Doctor Strange film. Watson presided over Phythian's and husband Victor Marke's trial by jury, which ended on Wednesday when she was convicted of 14 counts of sexual activity with a child, the Nottingham Post reported.
Marke, 59, was convicted on the same 14 counts of abuse as Pythian as well as four counts of sexual abuse of a child related to a different victim. He was sentenced to 10 years and four years on the charges, respectively, according to the BBC.
Watson suggested that the disparate sentences for the same abuse charges were a result of his determination that Marke had been the "driving force behind the abuse."
"Whilst you denied in cross-examination that you were besotted with Victor Marke, on the evidence I have heard I am in no doubt that your deviance was shaped by the influence that he had upon you from an early age," Watson told Phythian at her sentencing, according to the BBC.
Phythian became a student of Markes' at the age of 14, her father told The Daily Mail, and she announced to her family at the age of 19 — in 2004 — that she was involved with her then-married, 41-year-old martial arts master and he was leaving his wife and newborn baby so they could be together.
The sexual abuse of the 13-year-old girl (in which the couple has now been convicted) began in 2005 and continued through 2008.
"None of this excuses what you did. You may have done them to fulfill Victor Marke's urges but you still chose to play your part," the judge told Phythian, according to The Daily Mail.
The victim testified in court that the abuse began after she drank rum with the couple and Phythian asked her if she wanted to play "dares," at which point Phythian allegedly performed a sex act on Marke and "dared" the girl to copy her. Marke then assaulted the girl and had sex with Phythian — a situation the victim testified became a routine occurrence over the following three years and eventually involved the couple videotaping the assaults.
Phythian and Marke denied abusing the girl, though Phythian allegedly told police that Marke claimed to have had consensual sex with the girl — but without her — one time after she turned 18.
In the other case, Marke was convicted of sexually abusing a different victim in 2002 and 2003, when she was 15 and 16. She testified that he began sexually touching her at age 15 and then sexually assaulted her at age 16, according to the Nottingham Post.
"Victor Marke, I describe you as the driving force behind the abuse," Judge Watson told the defendant, according to The Daily Mail. "The sex act that did take place would end when you had fulfilled your needs. You were also the older part and occupied a higher status in the world of martial arts."
"Each of you shares responsibility," the judge added. "Your offending involved multiple types of sex acts and more importantly you offended together."