Court told Rolf Harris cuddle turns nasty

January 12, 2017

Rolf Harris has a propensity for "unwanted groping" of young females, a London jury has heard.

A woman has told a London court that Rolf Harris pulled her onto his lap and put his hand up her skirt to touch "where he shouldn't" at a music festival in 1971 when she was aged 14.

The woman, now in her 50s, gave evidence at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday on the opening day of a six-week trial in which the 86-year-old entertainer is accused of indecently assaulting seven women and girls.

The charges relate to alleged offences committed between 1971 and 2004 on victims aged between 12 and 42 at the time and when Harris was aged between 41 and 74.

The court heard that Harris is in jail after being found guilty in 2014 of 12 indecent assault charges against four female victims aged between eight and 19 at the time of the offences between 1969 and 1986.

Prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Rees, QC, told the jury that Harris' previous convictions established he had "a propensity for indecently assaulting young females" for his own sexual gratification.

Harris has been granted leave to appear at his new trial by videolink from Stafford Prison due to his age and state of health.

On Wednesday the first complainant against him also appeared by videolink, telling the court she was a member of a youth brass band playing in 1971 at a music festival at London's Lyceum theatre where Harris presented awards.

She said she felt "really uncomfortable" when Harris seemed to follow and smirk at her before she approached him as he was signing autographs.

"He grabbed me from the back, put his hands on my waist and sat me on his lap.

"I felt that he's placed his hand where he shouldn't have, in a private area."

The woman said it only lasted seconds because she was so shocked she stood up straight away.

Under questioning from Mr Rees the woman said Harris had not felt inside her pants or tights but his hand had been on her vagina "as close as it could get".

She said that after the incident, whenever she saw Harris on the television she couldn't watch and changed channels.

"I was ever so embarrassed and didn't want to speak about it when I was young."

After Harris's first trial the woman was encouraged to take a complaint to police.

Mr Rees said most of the charges against Harris could be described as "unwanted groping" in public settings and the jury might want to consider whether his celebrity status "made him so brazen".

Among the other charges are alleged assaults against a 12-year-old, two 13-year-old girls, a 16-year-old and two women, aged 27 and 42.

Mr Rees said one alleged assault in 1977 was on a blind and disabled woman at a hospital where Harris took off her glasses, squeezed her nipples and put his hand on her bottom before she forcibly prised his fingers off.

Another charge involved a 12-year-old girl at a radio station in Portsmouth in 1977 in which Harris allegedly asked for a "little cuddle" before he put his hand up her skirt and inside her pants.

A further charge is that Harris indecently assaulted a 13-year-old girl at the BBC Television studios during a show taping involving celebrity guests including the late George Michael.

The trial continues.

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