Rolf Harris pleads not guilty in London court to sex charges

Rolf Harris pleaded not guilty to seven charges of indecent assault and an alternative charge of sexual touching, but ...
REUTERS

Rolf Harris pleaded not guilty to seven charges of indecent assault and an alternative charge of sexual touching, but the case has been referred to Crown Court.

A London court hearing more indecent assault charges against Rolf Harris has been told he acted "like an octopus" as his hands roved over a woman he allegedly molested.

The Westminster Magistrates Court also heard that Harris asked a 13-year-old girl behind the scenes of a TV show, "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?" before assaulting her.

The 85-year-old appeared on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) by video link from Stafford Prison where he's serving nearly six years on similar charges.

He pleaded not guilty to seven charges of indecent assault and an alternative charge of sexual touching.

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Wearing a grey suit and colourful tie, Harris sat quietly as details of each count were put to District Judge Quentin Purdy by prosecutor Sam Maine.

The new charges relate to seven complainants aged between 12 and 27 at the time of the alleged offences between 1971 and 2004.

The court heard that Harris said to one 14-year-old girl seeking an autograph after a radio show in Portsmouth, "Let's give you a cuddle" before putting his hand up the back of her skirt and touching her vagina.

In another case involving a 14-year-old youth band member in London in 1977, Harris allegedly put his hand up her mini skirt and indecently touched her.

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Maine said after that incident the girl would turn off the television when Harris was on and couldn't stand the sound of his voice.

In an incident at a hospital in 1977, Harris allegedly approached a disabled woman, telling her she was "gorgeous" before kissing her neck and running his hands over her bottom and breasts.

Maine told the court that Harris told her he was a "touchy, feely sort of bloke", but the woman felt "totally trapped".

"Mr Harris felt like an octopus ... his hands spread as far as he could spread them," he quoted the woman as saying.

Maine said a 16-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by Harris was told "you're a bit irresistible", while a 13-year-old girl on a Saturday TV show was asked by him, "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?"

The court heard that a 19-year-old was told by Harris at a music studio in London that if he joined two dimples on her back to her "bum crack" it would "make the shape of a diamond which is really sexy".

It's also alleged that in a case of sexual touching in 2004 at a BBC studio Harris grabbed a woman's breasts and thrust his crotch into her.

The woman was told by colleagues that Harris was a "dirty old man" and to "get with the programme" as there was a policy that "no woman rides the lift alone with him".

Maine told the court that Harris was a "practised offender" who abused the trust placed in him as a celebrity and targeted victims regardless of their age or vulnerability.

District Judge Purdy referred the case to the Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on April 14 to determine trial dates.

Outside court, lawyer Daniel Berke read out a statement from the Harris family saying they were "disappointed and saddened" prosecutors had decided to pursue another trial against Harris, who would be 86 later this month.

"We, for our part, will do all we can as a family to assist him in proving his innocence".

 - AAP

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