A brother of an alleged victim of Rolf Harris has told a court the entertainer told him it “takes two to tango” when he accused him of sexually abusing his younger sister.
The man said he was “angry” when his sister opened up about the abuse after he confronted her about her alcohol problem when she turned up drunk at a family gathering when she was in her 20s.
Harris, 84, listened from the dock at London’s Southwark Crown Court, where he is on trial over 12 charges of indecent assault between 1968 and 1986. He denies all the charges.
During questioning from prosecutor Sasha Wass QC, the witness said he asked his sister what was causing her to drink to excess, describing her to the court as a “chronic alcoholic”.
“That’s when she confided to me that she’d been sexually abused,” he said. Asked whether she said who the man was, the witness answered: “She did. She said Rolf Harris.”
He told jurors he later phoned Harris. “I told him why I was angry. I said, ‘You have abused my sister’. He said, ‘It takes two to tango’.”
Prosecutors allege Harris abused the woman over a 15-year period, and “groomed her like a puppy” from the age of 13. The woman’s brother told the court doctors had said she might die if she did not stop drinking.
Witness statements from medical health professionals were read out from when she sought help from the 1990s onwards, including one from a counsellor who provided help to those with alcohol dependency.
Her statement said the woman told her she had been abused by Harris since the age of 13. “It was very clear the abuse had caused her alcohol problem and had ruined her life,” the statement said.
Another medical practitioner said the woman suffered from severe anxiety and appeared to have a sense of worthlessness. She said that in 2012, the woman contacted her to talk about revelations in the media about Jimmy Savile, “which made her reflect on her own position”. The woman’s mother told jurors she had “thought it was odd” when Harris once spent between half an hour and an hour upstairs with her teenage daughter but said she was “completely amazed” when she found out about the claims.
The woman’s father said he was “absolutely devastated and really couldn’t believe it”.
He told jurors: “I wrote him a letter expressing my disgust and saying that I really didn’t want to speak to him or have anything to do with him again. I really was very, very angry with him.”
The court previously heard Harris wrote the woman’s father a letter in reply in 1997, in which he admitted they had a sexual relationship but said it was consensual and had happened when she was old enough.
Asked about Harris’s letter, in which the TV presenter begged for forgiveness, the father said: “The thing that really struck me was that, if the argument was that nothing took place before my daughter was 19, it seems to me that this was rather at odds with the content and the tone of the rest of the letter.”
A former schoolfriend of the alleged victim also told jurors she had confided in her, and “she described him as a dirty old man”. The trial continues.