Zara Phythian, the martial arts stuntperson and actress who appeared in 2016's Doctor Strange, has been sentenced to eight years of prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing a then-13-year-old girl.
According to the Nottingham Post, the 37-year-old, who played sorcerer Brunette Zealot in the popular Benedict Cumberbatch film, was sentenced in the U.K.'s Nottingham Crown Court on Monday, while her husband Victor Marke was sentenced to 14 years in prison, as Judge Mark Watson said Marke, 59, was a "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, per BBC News.
"I cannot ignore that it started at a time when you were still young."
He continued: "Having said that, none of this excuses what you did â these were choices you made."
"You were by then successful in your own right. You chose to play your part."
Phythian, Marke Convicted Last Week on Sex Charges
Phythian was convicted on Wednesday of 14 charges of sexual activity with a child between 2005 and 2008, starting when the girl was 13 years old. In addition to the same 14 counts, Marke was found guilty of an additional four counts of indecent assault against another girl from 2002 to 2003, when she was 15.
The victim, who is now an adult, had accused Phythian of plying her with alcohol and then having sex with her. She also said they filmed some of the encounters in an attempt to recreate porn scenes.The victim described looking up to Phythian, who was working as a martial-arts instructor in Nottinghamshire at the time, as was Marke, who was married to another woman at the time.
"I knew it was wrong but I just didn't know how to get out of the situation or say anything," she told cops, according to the Nottinghamshire Post. "I remember trying to copy Zara's reaction at the time because I looked up to her and tried to be like her in every way."
Marke Threatened Victim, Told Her No One 'Would Believe Her'
The victim alleged that Phythian dared her to perform oral sex on Marke, and that afterwards he had sex with both of them. The outlet reported that the woman said she felt that Phythian "coached" her when it came to the sexual activity.
She claimed the sexual activity continued on further occasions. The victim also said that as the abuse continued, Marke warned her about telling anyone. The woman told police that Marke told her no one "would believe" her and threatened to harm her if she said anything, adding of the couple, "They always had a power over me," she said.
According to The Nottingham Post, the second victim said Marke began having sex with her when she was 16. The couple denied both allegations.
"I want to thank the two victims who have showed great courage in coming forward and talking about their ordeal," senior investigating officer Parminder Dhillon said after the verdict, in a statement obtained by the Nottingham Post. "Although no punishment handed down by a court can undo the lifelong damage caused to the them, I do hope they take some degree of comfort from the knowledge that justice has now been done."