Veteran actress Maggie Kirkpatrick, who played a violent and sadistic warden nicknamed "The Freak" in a cult Australian soap opera set in a women's prison, was convicted by a magistrate on Thursday of molesting a 14-year-old psychiatric hospital patient in her home more than 30 years ago.

The series was known as "Prisoner" in Australia, and "Prisoner: Cell Block H" or "Caged Women" overseas. It ran from 1979 to 1986.

Kirkpatrick, 74, whose character Joan "The Freak" Ferguson would molest inmates with the excuse of conducting body searches, had pleaded not guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to two counts of indecently assaulting the young "Prisoner" fan in the 1984 and one count of gross indecency.

But Magistrate Peter Mealy found her guilty of all charges after a hearing that lasted little more than a day. Kirkpatrick will be sentenced on Friday. It is not clear what sentence she could face.

She is the third high-profile Australian entertainer to be convicted of child abuse in little more than a year.

Robert Hughes, 66, the star of the Australian TV sit-com "Hey Dad!" that ran from 1987 until 1994, was sentenced in a Sydney court last year to almost 11 years in prison for molesting young girls, including a cast member. Kirkpatrick appeared in that series.

Also last year, Australian television personality, musician and artist Rolf Harris, 84, was sentenced to almost six years in a British prison for indecently assaulting four girls as far back as 1968.

Defense lawyer Justine Hannebery asked the court to impose a community service order rather than a prison term.

Prosecutors did not oppose a non-custodial sentence for the grandmother of two.

Kirkpatrick has described the allegations as malicious and untrue.

While Kirkpatrick's most famous role was in "Prisoner," she also appeared in the Australian television series "All Saints," ''Pizza," ''Blue Heelers" and "Water Rats."

Kirkpatrick, who now lives in Sydney, recently played a stage role in Australia in the musical "Wicked."