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'It takes two to tango, said Rolf'

A brother of an alleged victim of Rolf Harris has told a court the veteran entertainer told him it "takes two to tango" when he accused him of sexually abusing his younger sister since she was a teenager.

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 in her 20s.

Harris, 84, listened from the dock at London's Southwark Crown Court where he is on trial on 12 charges of indecent assault between 1968 and 1986 - seven relating to the womanin question. The TV star and artist denies all the charges.

During questioning from prosecutor Sasha Wass QC, the witness said he asked his sister what was causing her to drink regularly 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, who cannot be named for legal reasons, 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 various medical health professionals were read out from when she sought help from the 1990s onwards, including from one counsellor who provided help to those with alcohol dependency.

Her statement said that the woman had 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. "I got the impression that she was overwhelmed by his charisma and his celebrity status and didn't feel that she could say no to him."

Another medical practitioner said the woman suffered from severe anxiety and appeared to have a sense of worthlessness. She said that in October 2012 the woman contacted her to talk about the revelations in the media about Jimmy Savile, "which made her reflect on her own position".

Other statements from health experts she saw also confirmed the woman opened up about her alleged abuse at the hands of Harris, with one saying she told them it lasted from when she was 13 to 28.

Dressed in a blue-grey suit and patterned tie, Harris listened with the aid of a hearing loop as the alleged victim's elderly parents gave evidence this morning, when they spoke of their shock at hearing the allegations that the man they "trusted" abused their daughter.

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 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.

Asked about Harris's letter, in which the TV presenter begged for forgiveness and describes how he was "sickened" by the misery he had caused, the man 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."

His wife, who like him opted to sit down to give her evidence, said she found out about the allegations after she confronted her about her heavy drinking.

She said: "She told me she had been abused all her life, which made me very angry."

During cross-examination by Sonia Woodley QC, for the defence, she was asked about the time she recalled Harris visiting the family home to see her daughter when she was aged about 14 or 15.

The woman told jurors she "thought it was odd" but when questioned on why she did not instead call her teenager daughter downstairs to see Harris, she said: "Because I trusted him."

Ms Woodley went on: "I'm suggesting that Rolf Harris never went upstairs in your house."

The witness replied: "He did."

A former school friend of the alleged victim also gave evidence, telling jurors she had confided in her that Harris had "sexually abused her over many years".

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".

"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.

"She said that Rolf Harris had sexually abused her over many years. She said she didn't want to go into details at the time over the phone. It was obviously quite distressing."

The woman told the court her friend did not want to go to police with her allegations against Harris.

"Obviously she wasn't in a good place to be able to deal with it and she just knew it would be a bit of a media circus and she just didn't want to deal with it," she said.

The trial was adjourned to tomorrow.


From Belfast Telegraph