Rolf Harris: The victims' testimony

NICK MILLER
Last updated 08:14 01/07/2014

Rolf Harris guilty of sex assaults

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Rolf Harris has been found guilty on 12 charges of indecent assault against four girls, from 1968 to 1986. Here are the complainants, some of the most damning testimonies from the witnesses, and a timeline of when the offences occurred.

R - Count 1 of indecent assault

Verdict: Guilty

In a breaking, nervous voice behind a drawn curtain, a woman in her early 50s said that about her 8th birthday (October 1969) she went to a community centre near her home in the Portsmouth area, where Harris performed Two Little Boys for the gathered children.

Afterwards he signed autographs. She went up to him, he turned to her and said "hello what's your name" and signed 'best wishes' on a piece of paper for her. She then felt his hand "out of nowhere" go down her back and up between her legs, "aggressively and forcefully", she said. "I knew it wasn't an accident... I understood that was wrong".

She was too scared to cry out, she said, and Harris carried on as if nothing had happened.

Sobbing, she said she "wasn't the same child" after the experience.

Harris said he was not there, or at least couldn't remember being there, and he certainly did not assault Ms R. At the time he had a hectic TV schedule, spent a significant amount of the year in Australia (watching the moon landing in an outback pub with Harry Butler), and was far too successful to make it likely he'd be in a small regional community centre.

Police admitted they had not found any record of his visit in newspaper archives, and though one old witness said he remembered Harris visiting the community centre around that time, others said they did not.

P - Count 2 of indecent assault

Verdict: Guilty

P said she was waitressing as a 13 or 14 year-old at an event in Cambridge. She was "pretty sure" the event was It's a Celebrity Knockout, she told police, but later said she wasn't sure. She said the incident had "wiped out" the surrounding detail, but the assault itself was "red and vivid" in her mind.

She was waitressing and cleaning up after lunch, heard barking outside and went out to find Harris crouched on all fours barking at a dog.

Harris came up to her, put his arm around her shoulder, then ran his hand up and down her back then put his hand on her bottom. It was "groping", she said - very firm and he squeezed a few times. She froze, then got away and went back inside the marquee.

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Harris can prove he was overseas on the date of the only It's a Knockout filmed in Cambridge in 1975. He said he visited Cambridge for the first time in 2010/11.

But an ITV program called Star Games was filmed on Jesus Green in Cambridge in July 1978, in which Harris captained the theatre team. Harris said he had had no idea he was in Cambridge and had forgotten the entire event until he saw the video, which was shown in court.

Main complainant - counts 3-9 of indecent assault

Verdicts: Guilty

In late 1978 the Harris family went on an overseas trip to Canada, Hawaii and Perth. They took along the 13-year-old friend of Bindi, who had never been abroad before.

She claimed that, in a hotel room in Hawaii, Harris abused her for the first of many times: assaulting her after enveloping her in a big bear hug when she stepped out of a shower clad in a towel.

She said he assaulted her again on a Hawaiian beach, and several times more at his parent's home in Bassendean, WA.

The abuse continued back in the UK, before her 16th birthday, she said - which is what Harris has been charged over.

Twice he visited her home, came upstairs and assaulted her, she said. She began drinking gin to deal with her anxiety and fear.

She then went to visit Bindi in the Harris' new home in Bray, Berkshire. On two occasions he came into her bedroom and assaulted her, she said  - once when Bindi was asleep in a nearby bed.

Harris said none of this happened - neither on the holiday nor back in the UK.

He said his sexual relationship with the woman began after she had turned 18, and her description of the sexual encounters was "ludicrous", and if it weren't so serious would have been "laughable".

Instead, he said, the complainant never visited his home until she was over 16. One day when she was 18 and he 53, he took her a cup of tea in the morning and she seduced him, he said.

A schoolfriend of the complainant said when she was 16 her friend told her Harris was a "dirty old man" who would feel her up when she sat on his lap (though in her statement to police she said she was 18, not 16).

One count of indecent assault refers to when the complainant was 19 and came for a swim in the Harris' pool, where she said Harris assaulted her while his wife and her mother were chatting in another room. Harris denied the encounter happened at all, though they were in a consensual relationship by this time.

The court also heard details of their occasional sexual encounters as adults. Both Harris and the complainant agreed that the relationship fizzled out when she was in her late 20s.

Tonya Lee - counts 10-12 of indecent assault

Verdicts: Guilty

In 1986 the 15-year-old Lee was on a tour of the Shopfront Theatre company to the UK. The company's artistic director was a friend of Harris and arranged for him to meet them at the end of the tour.

In a pub after the show, Lee claimed, Harris told her she had a lovely singing voice and invited her to sit on his lap. She said he assaulted her with his hand under the table.

She panicked and fled to the ladies' loo. When she came out, Harris was waiting in the corridor, she said. He gave her a big bear hug and assaulted her again.

Harris recalled going to the pub but didn't remember Lee at all. He said what she had described was physically impossible and Lee was making it up.

The defence criticised Lee for selling her story to the media, for lying to police about that, and for getting the date wrong as to when on the tour Harris assaulted her - which made other details of her account implausible.

However the prosecution read a statement from a drug and alcohol counsellor, who said Ms Lee had made very similar claims about Harris months before his arrest had been reported in the media, and well before she had approached the media in an attempt to sell her story.
 
Witnesses:

CM

Australian witness 'CM' said she was 11 or 12 and staying at the home of a family in the Northern Territory, around 1969, and came downstairs one day in her pyjamas to find Rolf Harris -a friend of the family - carving some wood.

He asked how old she was, then said "come here, I want to be the first to give you a tongue kiss" - and did so, forcing his tongue into her mouth.

Ever since, she said, she has not been able to stand anyone holding her and tongue-kissing her "it makes me feel very frazzled and scared". She said she had told all three of her husbands of the incident, but didn't trust police.

Harris said he had no recollection of CM. He accepted he was at the house and he did polish a big piece of wood. He must have met her, he said, but said the incident she described simply didn't happen. He would "not do that to anyone". He didn't think what she had described was "physically possible".

MC

New Zealander 'MC' was around 16, and met Harris at 1970 at a private cocktail party at a restaurant called the Chelsea Rooms where she was helping to promote some local wine.

She asked him for an autograph and he signed it 'with my love'.

A photograph shows them together. He was "acting up" for the camera, she said. He asked her to dance, she agreed.

He put his hand onto her bottom over her dress, then put his hands up the front of her dress to her crotch.

"I saw the dark side of a man that I thought could be trusted," she said. One moment he was charming and the next trying to get inside her pants.

She pushed him away and left. But she didn't report it, "it happened in the era of a man's world".

Harris said he had been to New Zealand many times and had no memory of the location or event. He accepted he had met MC there, but said there had been no indecent assault.

W

This 18 year-old Brit met Harris on holiday in Malta in 1970, when Harris was 40. Her boyfriend cut his toe on some rocks, she said, and Harris helped out - she saw him at a nearby bar. She went back later to thank him.

He invited her to another room to look at some art, then he started kissing her. Initially she was scared and flattered and didn't push him away. But he then touched her over and under her clothing. "It was all quite a shock," she said. He put her hand on his penis, but then stopped, cuddled her and said sorry.

"I thought that I was going to be raped," she said. She went out with him and stayed for a photo to be taken on her camera (which the jury saw).

Harris accepts he had his photo taken with her, but said he couldn't recall her.  He pointed out she looked happy in the photo, and said her account was fabricated, though he didn't know why she would have made it up.

He said he owned a club in Malta at the time, but it didn't match W's description.

SD

"The dirty old man groped me all day, and I was really pissed off," Australian TV makeup artist SD told the court.

In 1986, SD said, she was a freelance hair and makeup artist hired by Channel 7 for a day's work on a promotional shoot featuring Harris. While making him up, she said, he put his hand up her baggy denim shorts onto her hip/bottom. He did it again, repeatedly, all through the day's shoot - more than two dozen times, she said.

She said she found out afterwards from other makeup artists that Harris was known as "the octopus" because "he was all hands".

Harris said he couldn't recall doing any shoot of this sort with Channel 7 - most of his shows were at the ABC or at 9. He said what SD had claimed was physically impossible, and ludicrous. It was a mystery to him why she would lie.

When accused in the witness stand of having invented her account, SD wordlessly snorted at the suggestion.

Tony Porter

This retired Australian actor said he was hired as comic support for Harris' TV show in the 1980s. He was once in a makeup room and saw Harris reach forward and grab the breasts of a makeup artist in her late 20s who was leaning forward in front of him. Harris made a 'lascivious noise' as he did so, Porter said - though his offer to imitate the noise for the court was not taken up.

Harris said he had no recollection of Porter at all (even after he was shown a clip of them acting together), but said he certainly didn't assault a makeup lady as described.

JH and SA

JH was a 15-year-old interested in art. She and her mother went to a promotional event at a hardware store in Hamilton, NSW, where Harris did some cartoons.

JH said when she was introduced to Harris he but one hand on her breast and another on her bottom. She jumped back and kept away from him for the rest of the day.

When JH and SA posed for a photograph with Harris at the end of the event, SA said he rubbed up against her. She stamped on his foot and told him he was a "disgusting creature" - at which point, she said, he nodded toward her daughter and said "she liked it".

Harris said he didn't remember the event, but certainly didn't do what he had been accused of.

Timeline

1930 - Harris born

1952 - Moves to England

1954 - Signs with BBC

1956 - Has paintings in Royal Academy exhibition

1958 - Marries sculptor Alwen Hughes

1959 - Invents wobbleboard

1960/61 - Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport a hit.

1963 - Sun Arise reaches No.2 in UK

1964 - Daughter Bindi born

1967 - Rolf Harris Show premieres in UK

1969 - Harris takes his family to Darwin to film a TV show and hears Two Little Boys - which soon becomes a big hit.

1969 - Harris allegedly assaults witness CM, an 11 or 12 year-old staying at the home of a family in the Northern Territory.

1969 -Harris allegedly assaults complainant R during a promotional visit to a community centre in Portsmouth. She was 7 or 8 years old.

1970 - Harris allegedly gropes witness MC, aged 16-17, while dancing with her at an event in New Zealand.

1970 - Harris allegedly assaults 18 year-old witness IW at a club in Malta.

July 1978 - Star Games filmed on Jesus Green, Cambridge. Complainant P claimed Harris assaulted her, probably at this event, when she was around 16 years old.

December 1978 - Harris family and 13-year-old main complainant go on holiday. She claims he abused her on four occasions in Hawaii and Australia.

1979-80 -Harris allegedly assaults main complainant on two occasions at her home in Sydenham.

Late 1980 - Harris family move to Bray. Over the next few months, main complainant says, Harris assaulted on two occasions in his home.

1984 -Harris allegedly assaulted main complainant in the swimming pool at his home, - she was about 19 years old.

Early-mid-1980s - Witness Tony Porter allegedly sees Harris groping a makeup artist at an Australian TV studio.

May 1986 -Harris allegedly assaults main complainant Tonya Lee, 14, twice in a London pub while she is on a youth theatre tour.

1986 - Harris allegedly repeatedly gropes makeup artist SD at a Channel 7 studio in Australia.

1991 - Harris attends promotional event at Hamilton NSW hardware store and meets witnesses JH and SA. They say he assaulted them.

1993 - Harris stays at his daughter Bindi's house in Devon, where he and the main complainant have a sexual encounter.

1993 - Harris' 'rock renaissance' begins with the success of his Stairway to Heaven cover, and his appearance at Glastonbury

1996 - Main complainant tells others that Harris abused her as a teenager: her parents, brother, a family friend, and Bindi Harris in Bray.

March 1997 - Harris writes a letter of apology to the father of the main complainant

October 2012 - Main complainant contacts police

November 2012 - Harris first interviewed by police in presence of solicitors. Police raid Harris' Bray home.

April 2013 - Complainant P contacts police

April 2013 - Australian complainant Tonya Lee contacts police

May 2013 - Complainant R contacts police

June 2014 - Rolf Harris is found guilty of 12 counts indecent assault.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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