Content warning: The article contains descriptions of sexual abuse of a minor, which some readers may find disturbing.
Zara Phythian, the martial artist who appeared in the 2016 Marvel film Doctor Strange, and her husband Victor Marke were both convicted of 14 sex offenses against a child on Wednesday, after just a day of jury deliberations.
The couple was accused of sex crimes against an underage girl who was between 13 and 15 years old from 2005 through 2008. According to the Nottingham Post, jurors retired to consider their verdicts on Tuesday, May 10, and returned with their guilty verdicts on Wednesday, May 11. Marke and Phythian, 36, who now also goes by her married name Marke, are expected to be sentenced on Monday, and the judge is not expected to be lenient — warning of a “considerable period in custody.”
The trial, which began on April 25, detailed how the couple allegedly initially provided the child with rum before asking her to play a game of “dare,” which quickly became sexual when Zara began performing oral sex on Marke and dared her to join in.
The youngster copied what Zara Marke had been doing, the jury was told, before experienced martial arts instructor Victor Marke allegedly had sex with both of them. The child alleged she did not know how to react but, it was alleged, this kind of sexual activity happened repeatedly, and they told her not to say anything.
The child also felt like she was being “coached” by Zara Marke to get better at the sexual activity, the court was told. She estimated Victor Marke, a coach in martial arts and Taekwondo at a very high level, had sex with her about 20 times on different occasions.
The Markes maintained their innocence throughout the trial. In addition to the joint 14 charges, Victor Marke faced four additional allegations of historic indecent assault on another teenage girl.
If you know someone suffering from sexual violence, contact RAINN or the National Sexual Abuse Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.