Monday, June 30, 2014
Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris saw his decades in the spotlight end in disgrace today as he was found guilty of indecent assault.
The 84-year-old, once a much-loved artist and musician, was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of 12 sex charges involving four women.
Earlier in the trial jurors heard from a girl from a Norfolk village who alleged Harris had indecently assaulted her on a number of occasions.
The girl, a teenage friend of his daughter, said that on one occasion Harris had even abused her while the girls shared a bedroom.
She told the court that the veteran entertainer began abusing her when she was 13, and he appeared to get “a thrill” out of carrying out assaults while his own daughter was present.
She said that she kept the alleged abuse secret for years, frightened that nobody would believe her, but finally confessed to her parents in her late 20s
Harris’ army of supporters, including suited security guards and representatives from PR giant Bell Pottinger who attended every day of the trial, could do nothing to change the verdict of the jury of six men and six women.
Once seen by a UK audience as a national treasure, Harris had enjoyed years of success, netting him a multi-million pound fortune and the chance to paint the Queen.
But the downfall of an entertainer who was part of millions of British childhoods came today, as Harris became the biggest scalp claimed by detectives from high profile sex crime investigation Operation Yewtree.
Dozens more alleged victims have come forward during the trial, including several in Australia, and Scotland Yard has been in touch with their counterparts in the Australian police, but it is not yet clear whether they are pursuing any investigation in Harris’s home country.
The NSPCC said it has received 28 calls relating to Harris to date, involving 13 people who claim they fell prey to the performer.
The performer was released on bail until Friday when he will be sentenced.
Justice Sweeney warned the 84-year-old that given the conviction on all 12 counts it was “inevitable” that a custodial sentence would be possible.
“He must understand that”, he said, to which Harris’s barrister Sonia Woodley replied: “He does appreciate that”.