Doctor Strange Actress Zara Phythian Sentenced to 8 Years of Prison on Child Sex Charges

·3 min read
Zara Phythian attends Marvel Studios and British GQ hosted reception in The Cloisters at Westminster Abbey
Zara Phythian attends Marvel Studios and British GQ hosted reception in The Cloisters at Westminster Abbey

David M. Benett/Dave Benett /Getty Images Zara Phythian in 2016

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 15-year-old girl.

According to the Nottingham Post, BBC News and U.K.'s The Times, the 37-year-old 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.

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.

According to the BBC, a police interview with the first victim was played last month at Nottingham Crown Court, in which she said, "I knew it was wrong, but I just didn't know how to get out of the situation or say anything."

Reps for Phythian and Marke did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Phythian and Mark have reportedly denied all allegations from both plaintiffs before being found guilty.

The first victim described looking up to Phythian, who was working as a martial-arts instructor in Nottinghamshire at the time, as was Marke. She claimed Phythian and Marke gave her alcohol before Phythian dared her to perform oral sex on Marke, who reportedly was not yet married to Phythian but to another woman.

"I remember trying to copy Zara's reaction at the time because I looked up to her and tried to be like her," the woman said, according to BBC News. She said Marke then had sex with both Phythian and the victim.

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Zara Phythian and her husband VICTOR MARKE arrive at Nottingham Crown Court, where they face 14 child sex charges. ZARA MARKE and her husband VICTOR MARKE arrive at Nottingham Crown Court, where accused of sex offences with a 13-year-old-child
Zara Phythian and her husband VICTOR MARKE arrive at Nottingham Crown Court, where they face 14 child sex charges. ZARA MARKE and her husband VICTOR MARKE arrive at Nottingham Crown Court, where accused of sex offences with a 13-year-old-child

Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP/Shutterstock Victor Marke and Zara Phythian

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," BBC News reported.

According to The Nottingham Post, the second victim said Marke began having sex with her when she was 16.

"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, the Nottingham Post reported. "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."

Dhillon added, "I hope this case serves as a reminder to others — that we treat all allegations of sexual abuse with the utmost seriousness and that, even in cases where offenses occurred many years ago, we will thoroughly investigate and we will do everything in our power to bring perpetrators to justice."

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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