Doctor Strange actress Zara Marke is facing a “considerable” jail sentence after being found guilty of grooming and sexually abusing a schoolgirl.
The movie career of martial arts expert Marke, 37, who appeared in the Hollywood hit with Benedict Cumberbatch, now lies in ruins after she was found guilty of sexual activity with the teenager over a three year period – starting when the child was just 13.
Prosecutors said Marke – also a stuntwoman – and her husband, Victor Marke, 59, regularly abused the youngster at their home.
Taekwondo expert Victor filmed some incidents in a “bid to recreate pornographic scenes”, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
The abuse was said to have begun in 2005 after the Markes plied the girl with rum before Zara “dared” her to perform a sex act on her husband.
The abuse later turned into full intercourse.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was ordered “not to tell anyone”.
The Markes, who “commanded admiration and respect within the martial arts world”, were each found guilty of 14 counts of sexual activity with a child after a two week trial.
Victor was also convicted of indecent assault on another girl between 2002 and 2003.
The couple, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, hugged each other as they were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on Monday.
The actress wept as Judge Mark Watson warned them: “Both of you know the sentence I am going to pass is likely to be measured by a considerable period of custody.”
Marke, who appeared on screen using her maiden name of Phythian, was arrested in 2017.
Police had received a complaint that Victor indecently assaulted another girl, aged 15 at the time.
That led detectives to knock on the second victim’s door asking if she ‘knew anything’ – and she finally revealed her “deepest, darkest secret”.
The girl said she “would never have come forward” and planned to “die with my shame”.
However, she had recently become a mother and decided to speak out to stop others being targeted in the same way she had.
In a video interview shown to the jury the victim told how the Marks “kind of instructed me through all of it (sexual activity).”
The court heard she confided in a friend about what had happened when she was 18.
During police interviews, Marke described the allegations as “bull****”.
Her victim had described a Chinese calligraphy tattoo mark had in an intimate area, signifying her husband’s name.
But Marke suggested she may have seen the tattoo when she was in a changing room.
Victor claimed the girl may have been jealous of her film success.
Marke, who possessed a “collection” of sex toys, denied prosecution suggestions she was “infatuated” with Victor – who is 22 years her senior and is believed to have three grown-up children with other women.
The court was told lurid details of Marke having sex with other men while he filmed them.
It was reported last night that the couple knew another pedophile in the martial arts world who raped a teenage girl.
Video taken by Victor, seen by The Sun, shows Marke training with kickboxing instructor and child abuser Paul Drury.
The footage is said to have been shot in 2008 – seven years before Drury, 57, was jailed for 15 years for raping a 12-year-old girl at his home and at an academy he ran in Dawlish, Devon.
During the Nottingham court case, Marke was described by her barrister as a “top flight martial artist who branched off into media and film”.
The Taekwondo black belt was spotted by a movie director while at an American tournament in 2005.
She won a string of global martial arts titles, appeared on TV to set world records and was offered a role on tour with Diversity, the dance act who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
Giving evidence, Marke described how she studied martial arts from the age of seven when her father took her to a karate class along with her three sisters so they could “look after themselves”.
She told how she ran her own fighting academy in Mansfield as well as owning an entertainment and production firm and clothing brand.
She appeared as “Brunette Zealot” in Doctor Strange, which proved to be the high point of her film career.
She continued to star in or act as a stuntwoman in low-budget movies, some written, produced or directed by her husband.
Her latest movie, sci-fi feature Unit 19 – co-written by Victor – is due out this year.
The court heard the couple met when he was her martial arts instructor and married in 2015.
Nicole Hepburn, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the case the couple had been “exposed as the true liars”.
She added: “This abuse may have occurred some years ago, but that makes it no less serious and nor is it a barrier to justice. I would encourage anyone who has been abused in the past to come forward with the knowledge that the CPS will take your case seriously.”