Court told Rolf Harris allegedly 'sexually assaulted seven victims aged 12-42 over 30 years'

TV entertainer Rolf Harris allegedly assaulted seven girls and women in a series of "brazen" sex attacks that spanned more than 30 years, a court has heard.

One of the alleged victims was as young as 12, while the oldest was 42, a jury of seven women and five men at London’s Southwark Crown Court was told.

None of the assaults, which are said to have taken place between 1971 and 2004 when Harris was aged between 41 and 74, involved "penetrative activity", the court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees told the jury: "Most of the behaviour complained of falls into a broad category that might be described as unwanted groping, and includes, for example, grabbing or touching breasts over clothing, or slipping a hand up or into a skirt to touch the vaginal area."

He continued: "One notable feature of the case is that none these assaults is alleged to have happened in private; all appear, so it is alleged, to have occurred in public settings when there were other people in the near vicinity.

"And it may be that you will want to consider whether Mr Harris’s celebrity status played any part in making him apparently so brazen in what it is alleged that he did."

Jurors were told that Harris was currently in Stafford Prison, serving a sentence for a series of offences of indecent assault carried out on four female victims.

The 86-year-old "continues to maintain his innocence" regarding these offences, the prosecutor said, and has pleaded not guilty to seven fresh counts of indecent assault and one alternative charge of sexual assault.

Each of the new alleged victims contacted the police or the NSPCC in the wake of the "widespread publicity" surrounding the first trial, he said.

In December last year, Judge Alistair McCreath ruled that the entertainer would not have to attend proceedings in person because of his age and health.

Harris, wearing a dark suit and dark grey patterned tie, watched quietly as he appeared on video-link.

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

He is alleged to have pulled a 14-year-old girl on to his lap and put his hand up her skirt at a youth music event in London in 1971.

Mr Rees said the prosecution argues that, despite Harris’s assertion that he would not act in such a way, his previous convictions establish that he has "a propensity for indecently assaulting young females".

In 1977 Harris is said to have put his hand up the skirt of a 12-year-old girl after saying "Let’s give you a little cuddle" when she went with her mother to get an autograph after the entertainer did a radio interview in Portsmouth.

Another "vulnerable" person, a blind, disabled woman, was allegedly groped by Harris at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

The woman, who was not at the time an in-patient at the hospital, recalled hearing a door to the room she was in opening and recognising the voice of the TV star whom she was expecting to meet.

Mr Rees told the jury: "She says he approached her and said ’Has anyone told you what a good-looking woman you are?’

"She put her hand out to shake his hand but Mr Harris said that he couldn’t be doing with all that."

Then, he continued, "he crouched down, kissed the back of her neck and ... began slobbering over her.

"She told him to get off, she says, but he put one hand down the back of her skirt while he placed the other under her bottom over the top of her skirt."

Harris is then said to have taken off the woman’s dark glasses which she was wearing to protect her eyes, telling her that he wanted to see her face, before allegedly cupping her breasts and squeezing her nipples.

She warned him that she would prise his fingers off her and hurt him if he did not stop, and while bending his fingers back became aware of a wedding ring on his left hand, Mr Rees said.


 

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