12 Jan 2017

Rolf Harris accused of assaulting seven women and girls

11:50 am on 12 January 2017

Former entertainer Rolf Harris allegedly assaulted seven women and girls in a series of "brazen" attacks over a period of 30 years, a court has been told.

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arrives court in London in 2014.

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arrives court in London in 2014. Photo: AFP

The 86-year old denies seven charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault and is appearing at Southwark Crown Court in London via video link.

The alleged victims were aged between 12 and 42, the jury was told.

All of the alleged assaults occurred in "public settings".

The alleged assaults, which are said to date between 1971 and 2004, could all be described as "unwanted groping", the court heard.

Prosecution lawyer Jonathan Rees said they took place "when there were other people in the near vicinity".

"None of these assaults is alleged to have happened in private."

Mr Rees suggested the entertainer's celebrity status made Mr Harris "apparently so brazen" in carrying out the alleged assaults.

Mr Harris is appearing in court via a video link from Stafford Prison. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Mr Harris is currently serving a sentence for a series of offences of indecent assault carried out on four female victims.

Among the allegations are that Mr Harris inappropriately touched girls on separate occasions when asked to sign autographs.

On one occasion, he is alleged to have pulled a 14-year-old girl onto his lap and put his hand up her skirt at a youth music event in London in 1971.

The jury heard that the alleged incident left the girl "shocked and frightened".

The complainant said she was not able to watch television if Mr Harris was on it, claiming: "I have to turn over."

Mr Harris is also said to have put his hand up the skirt of a 12-year-old girl when she went with her mother to get an autograph in Portsmouth.

Another alleged victim was a 27-year-old disabled and blind woman.

Mr Rees said Mr Harris "crouched down, kissed the back of her neck and... began slobbering over her."

Mr Harris is alleged to have placed his hand under the clothed breast of a 13-year-old girl after attending children's television show Saturday Superstore at BBC Television Centre in west London in 1983.

Mr Harris is said to have stroked the lower back of an 18-year-old woman at a music studio near London Bridge in 2002.

A then-BBC employee, aged 42 at the time, has accused Mr Harris of grabbing her breasts and thrusting his crotch against her at an event after the filming of a television show in 2004.

In his closing remarks, Mr Rees said the truth was that "Mr Harris's appetite for sexually assaulting young girls and women" had led him to commit the alleged offences, telling the jurors they must make their own minds up if this was so.

Judge Alistair McCreath ruled last year that Mr Harris' age and health meant he should not have to attend the trial in person.

Witnesses would be hidden from Mr Harris's view by screens, the court heard.

- BBC

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