How VIP night turned sour for Modern Family star

MEGAN LEVY
Last updated 17:55 21/02/2014
FAIRFAX MEDIA

Modern Family star Sarah Hyland assaulted in Sydney

Sarah Hyland
Getty Images
GROPING VICTIM: Modern Family star Sarah Hyland at the Qantas event.

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It was meant to be an unforgettable night on Sydney Harbour, with expensive champagne flowing and an A-list crowd welcoming the cast of one of the most popular shows on television.

But the VIP event quickly turned sour for one of the guests of honour.

Police were called in to haul off a man accused of indecently assaulting Modern Family star Sarah Hyland.

Hyland, 23, and her fellow cast members, on a two-week trip to Australia to film an episode of the Emmy Award-winning show, had been invited to attend the event at The Sebel Pier One at The Rocks on Thursday night.

It was a chance to welcome the stars to Australia, and for those responsible for bringing them here to meet the cast.

Qantas, which hosted the party, had literally rolled out the red carpet for the night.

Jessica Mauboy performed at the event, attended by about 200 of the country's top tourism and travel executives, while Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey were among the speakers.

Hyland, who plays oldest sibling Haley Dunphy in the sitcom, and her fellow stars - including Sofia Vergara (Gloria), Ty Burrell (Phil) and Eric Stonestreet (Cam) - circulated among the excited guests, chatting to them and posing for seemingly endless photographs.

But Hyland did not appear comfortable as she mingled with the crowd inside the hotel. One person said she appeared rattled and subdued.

The reason for her apparent discomfort was only revealed later, when she tweeted about an alleged incident said to have occurred on the street before she entered the party.

On her way into the event, Hyland had stopped to greet some fans who had gathered outside the hotel on Hickson Road.

One man asked her to pose for a photograph with him, and she obliged.

But during that incident she was allegedly grabbed on the breast. She immediately pushed the man away and called in private security guards.

Photographs show Hyland appearing distressed and angrily pointing at a man, who was later taken away in a paddy wagon.

A NSW Police spokesman confirmed that police were called to Hickson Road at The Rocks at 7.50pm on Thursday to reports that a 23-year-old woman had been indecently assaulted.

The spokesman said a 29-year-old man was arrested at the scene and was charged with assault with an act of indecency.

He has been granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on March 14.

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Hyland then put on a brave face for the red carpet, before entering the party, where a minder stayed with her constantly.

Most of those at the party were unaware of what was alleged to have occurred.

Excitement in the venue was said to have been high, with Steve Levitan, the co-creator of Modern Family, even performing a routine with Stonestreet.

Later, Hyland's boyfriend Matt Prokop, who has travelled to Australia with her, angrily tweeted: "To the asshole who assaulted Sarah tonight I hope to God you don't see next week [sic].

"All Sarah wanted to do tonight was say hi to the girls who were waiting outside one douche can ruin it for everyone. Goodnight."

Despite the incident, it was back to work on Friday morning for the Modern Family cast, who were filming on Bondi Beach.

Hyland was seen sitting on lounge beside her onscreen sister Ariel Winter, and taking photographs on her phone.

She later tweeted a picture of the beach, with a second image of photographers lining up to take pictures.

"Heaven and hell," she wrote.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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