Rolf Harris got thrill out of abusing, court told

Rolf Harris is on trial over 12 charges of indecent assault. Picture: PA
Rolf Harris is on trial over 12 charges of indecent assault. Picture: PA
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ROLF Harris carried out a string of indecent assaults on a teenage friend of his daughter – on one occasion abusing her while the pair shared a bedroom, a court has heard.

The woman, who claimed the veteran entertainer began abusing her when she was 13, said he appeared to get “a thrill” out of carrying out assaults while his own daughter was present.

Yesterday she told London’s Southwark Crown Court that she kept the alleged abuse secret for years, frightened nobody would believe her, but finally confessed to her parents in her late 20s.

She later told Harris’s daughter, Bindi, when she asked her, “Has he touched you?”, the court was told.

Harris is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault, seven of which relate to the woman, between 1968 and 1986.

Giving evidence from behind a curtain, the woman told the court Harris first abused her during a holiday in Hawaii when she was 13, in 1978, giving her a “creepy” hug before sexually assaulting her.

She recalled standing dressed only in a towel during the trip: “He just came over and gave me one of his big hugs and tickles.”

While her family gave each other “proper hugs”, the woman said the way Harris embraced her was “a bit creepy”.

She told the jury of six women and six men: “The way he hugged you and touched you all over, it was cringey. The way Rolf folded himself around you, he was a big man, he enfolded you in his arms and then touched you up and down over your body. He’d go, ‘Ooh’.”

The woman outlined a series of alleged indecent assaults carried out by the star in his home, and in hers, even when her parents were downstairs.

She said Harris appeared to get “a thrill” out of indecently assaulting her while his daughter Bindi was asleep in the same room. “He didn’t feel inhibited, I think he got a thrill out of it,” she told the jury.

Asked why she thought this, she said: “By the look on his face, looking over at Bindi and just carrying on.”

Four of the counts against Harris allege that he indecently assaulted the girl when she was 15; two relate to allegations he sexually assaulted her before she was 16; and one relates to an occasion when he allegedly indecently assaulted her in a swimming pool when she was 19.

Harris remained impassive as the woman gave evidence. His wife, Alwen, also showed no emotion.

The court heard that the performer carried out a sex act on himself in front of the alleged victim.

The woman, who said she left school at 16, told the court she had started to become “distant” and felt she was to blame for the alleged attacks.

Asked about another alleged assault, in a swimming pool at the entertainer’s Berkshire home when she was 19, she said: “I let him do it. I didn’t want him to, but I let him do it like all the other times.”

The woman told the court that, from the age of around 20 until she was 28, she had a number of consensual sexual encounters with Harris, and “felt dead”.

She received a card from Harris that was sent to her flat, which she said was a “bit disgusting” and had a “sexual tone”.

The alleged victim told the court that when she was about 28, she invited Harris to her flat to discuss his daughter, who was “having some issues with her father”, but instead he took her into the bedroom.

The court heard later she wrote to Harris asking for £30,000 to help her boyfriend save his bird sanctuary.

She told the jury: “I wrote to Rolf in a drunken stupor, he was doing Animal Hospital at the time, so I thought perhaps he could help with some money.”

The woman said she had not proactively told Bindi about the alleged assaults because it would have “devastated her”, but said that she later ended up revealing the alleged abuse to Harris’s daughter.

She said: “She [Bindi] was in a bit of a state because she thought that Rolf was having an affair with his housemaid, or keeper. She said, ‘Why have you got a downer on my dad?’.

“And I didn’t say anything and she just blurted out – she said, ‘Has he touched you?’.

“So I looked at her and just said ‘Yes’, and she was furious with him.”

Bindi phoned the woman’s mother that night to apologise, the alleged victim told the court, and then she, Bindi and Bindi’s boyfriend stayed up all night discussing it, jurors heard.

“She was pretty devastated but she wasn’t cross at me at all. She was really angry with her father and obviously very upset by it.”

The jury has already been told Harris wrote to the woman’s father admitting a consensual adult affair and expressing his regret, but denying that he had abused her as a child.

The trial continues.