Harris accuser 'confided in friend'

Published Wednesday, 14 May 2014
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A former school friend of one of Rolf Harris's alleged victims has told a court that she confided in her that he had "sexually abused her over many years" since she was 13 or 14.

Harris accuser 'confided in friend'
Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday. (© Getty)

The witness told Southwark Crown Court she was "good friends" with the woman from the age of 14 and when they were both aged around 16 she told her that Harris was a "dirty old man" who would make her sit on his lap so he could "feel her up".

Harris, 84, denies 12 charges of indecent assault between 1968 and 1986 - seven relating to the woman in question.

During questioning from prosecutor Sasha Wass QC, the witness said she knew her friend spent time at Harris's home due to her friendship with his daughter, Bindi.

"He was very well known to everybody, I think," she told jurors. "He was a well-known and well-loved celebrity so he was very much well known to all of us."

But she said that during a conversation they had when they were both about 16, "she described him as a dirty old man".

"I don't know what led into the conversation," she added. "She described a little bit about what she meant.

"He used to get her to sit on his lap and then touch her up. She didn't go into any detail about what exactly that entailed but she said he used to feel her up."

Asked why she remembered their talk, the woman told jurors: "Because it was a shocking conversation because he's a well-known celebrity and is well loved by a lot of people and is one of those people that you wouldn't imagine in a million years... and I just remember feeling quite horrified on her behalf that this had happened.

She said she spoke to her friend on the phone about the matter many years later in 1996 when they were both around 30 or 31.

"She basically told me that Rolf Harris had been abusing her throughout her teenage years and beyond," she said.

The alleged victim's mother also gave evidence to the court, telling jurors that she recalled Harris coming to the family home to visit her daughter when she was a teenager.

She said that on one occasion she recalled him asking for the girl when she was aged about 14 or 15 and when she told him she was upstairs, he went up to see her for between half an hour and an hour.

Asked by Ms Wass what she thought was happening up there, the woman said: "It was something that you didn't think about really."

During cross-examination by Sonia Woodley QC, for the defence, the woman told jurors she "thought it was odd" Harris had gone upstairs to see her daughter but when questioned on why she did not instead call her teenage daughter downstairs to see him, she said: "Because I trusted him."

The alleged victim's father later told the court he only found out about the allegations after his daughter was confronted about her alcohol abuse.

Asked by Ms Wass how he felt, he 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.

The court previously heard that 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 when she was of age.

The trial continues.

© UTV News
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