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Rolf Harris had 'appetite for sexually assaulting young girls and women'


Rolf Harris is accused of indecently assaulting girls

Rolf Harris is accused of indecently assaulting girls

Rolf Harris is accused of indecently assaulting girls

Rolf Harris had an appetite for sexually assaulting young girls and women, leading him to commit a series of "brazen" attacks spanning 30 years, a court has heard.

A blind, disabled woman and a 12-year-old girl were among those allegedly groped by the TV entertainer, who is on trial for another wave of sex charges said to have taken place between 1971 and 2004.

The alleged assaults against seven girls and women happened in public, prompting at least two of his victims to dub him a "dirty old man".

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees asked jury members at Southwark Crown Court to consider whether it was the 86-year-old's celebrity status that had made him so audacious.

Comments often accompanied the unwanted caresses, the court heard, with Harris allegedly asking a 13-year-old girl: "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?" as he placed his hand under her clothed breast.

The incident allegedly took place following a broadcast of children's television show Saturday Superstore at BBC Television Centre in White City, west London, in 1983.

On another occasion he said to a 12-year-old girl, eager to get a signed autograph from her Aussie hero, "let's give you a little cuddle" before putting his hand up her skirt.

A 14-year-old girl was left shocked and frightened after Harris pulled her on to his lap and touched her under her skirt while she attended a youth music event in London in 1971 , the jury heard.

Now an adult, the victim gave evidence via videolink, telling the court: "I felt that he had placed his hand where he shouldn't have, a private area."

She told her father almost immediately after, adding : "My father went straight up to him and spoke to him. I don't know what he said."

A 27-year-old woman, described as "vulnerable" by the prosecutor, was allegedly groped by Harris at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in the 1970s. She was not at that time an in-patient.

It is alleged Harris approached her and said: "Has anyone told you what a good-looking woman you are?'."

He declined a handshake, Mr Rees said, and instead "crouched down, kissed the back of her neck and ... began slobbering over her".

Despite telling him to stop, Harris put one hand down the back of her skirt before allegedly cupping her breasts and squeezing her nipples, the jury was told.

She warned him she would prise his fingers off her and hurt him if he did not stop, and while bending his fingers back became aware of a wedding ring on his left hand, Mr Rees said.

The prosecution argues, despite Harris's assertion that he would not act in the manner described in the incidents, his previous convictions establish he has "a propensity for indecently assaulting young females".

He said the truth was that "Mr Harris's appetite for sexually assaulting young girls and women" had led him to commit the alleged offences, telling the jurors they must make their own minds up if this was so.

It also alleged that Harris grabbed the breast of a teenager who was helping on the TV programme Star Games in the summer of 1978, who thought he told her she was "a bit irresistible".

In 2002 Harris is said to have stroked the lower back of an 18-year-old woman at a music studio near London Bridge and told her: "If you were to join up the two dimples on a woman's back to your bum crack it would make the shape of a diamond; I think it's really sexy."

Two men who saw the alleged incident recalled Harris's behaviour, Mr Rees told the jury, "variously describing it as creepy, cringing and lecherous".

The most recent alleged assault, in 2004, involved a then BBC employee who accused Harris of grabbing her breasts and thrusting his crotch against her at an event after the filming of a television show in 2004.

Mr Rees said the woman, aged 42 at the time, recalled "there were lots of people about but no-one reacted".

Jurors were told Harris, who appeared by video-link, is serving a sentence at Stafford Prison for a series of offences of indecent assault carried out on four female victims.

He maintains his innocence, the prosecutor said, and has pleaded not guilty to the seven counts of indecent assault and one alternative charge of sexual assault.

Each of the new alleged victims contacted the police or the NSPCC in the wake of the "widespread publicity" surrounding the first trial, Mr Rees said.

In December last year, Judge Alistair McCreath ruled the entertainer, whose niece Jenny Harris and husband were in court, would not have to attend proceedings in person because of his age and health.

The case, which is expected to last six weeks, was adjourned until 9.30am on Thursday.