Rolf Harris: The roaming molester

03:01, Jul 01 2014
WANDERING GROPER: Rolf Harris.
WANDERING GROPER: Rolf Harris performs at the Glastonbury Festival 2009 in south west England.

Wherever he went, Rolf Harris groped.

Not even reporters in far-flung New Zealand were safe from the busy hands of Australian-born entertainer Harris, found guilty by a British court of 12 counts of indecently assaulting four girls.

He will hear his sentence on Friday, with a jail term likely.

A New Zealand woman who met Harris two decades ago said she "wasn't at all surprised" when allegations against the 84-year-old surfaced last August.

The former Evening Post reporter, who did not wish to be named, told Stuff she recalled Harris' sleaziness during a mid-1990s interview in a Wellington central city hotel.

"He didn't grope me as such but he put his hand on my leg and looked at me while he held his hand there and squeezed my leg," she said.

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"It was sleazy and I remember thinking, 'Ew, gosh, what a creep.'

"I'm very glad to see he's been found guilty. I'm sure he's done it to hundreds of women."

When she told colleagues and family about the incident, they were very surprised.

"And then, hey ho, the allegations came out and it was like, 'there, I told you so'.

"It wasn't something that should have happened. It was wrong and I knew that."

Harris, of Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport fame, was on New Zealand television for years with his own series, in which he sang and painted.

He was the face of British Paints for more than 30 years. In television ads, he drummed on the lid of a tin of paint and said, "Trust British Paints - sure can!"

The company dumped him after his arrest in the United Kingdom, though it said at the time the decision was not linked to his arrest.

Jurors heard evidence of abuse against two other New Zealand girls during the prosecution's opening address at Southwark Crown Court.

That did not form part of the charges, as it occurred outside the court's jurisdiction.

Harris was said to have put his hands under the dress of a 16 or 17-year-old, known as "MC", at a function in the North Island while he was dancing with her in 1970.

"She felt sick and confused and embarrassed, " prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC, said.

"The experience of MC shows another step in the pattern of Mr Harris' behaviour. He was targeting people who were in awe of him, he pushed the boundaries even in a public place, a dance floor. He knew he could get away with it."

A 15-year-old girl went with her mother to see Harris at a promotion for British Paints at a hardware store in Hamilton in 1991.

"[Harris] stepped towards [the girl] as if to hug her and then put his right hand into her blouse and touched her left breast. At the same time he put his left hand on her right buttock and squeezed it," Wass said.

The girl stepped back and Harris laughed. Later she told her mother Harris was "a bit handy, Mum".

When they posed for a photo later, the mother felt Harris rubbing his groin against her buttocks.

She stood on his foot, turned around and said, "you are a disgusting creature". 

Stuff