Rolf Harris assaulted girl while parents downstairs, court hears

LONDON Mon May 12, 2014 9:02am EDT

LONDON May 12 (Reuters) - Australian entertainer Rolf Harris sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in her bedroom before laughing and joking with her parents downstairs, a London court was told on Monday.

Harris began abusing the girl from the age of 13 in numerous locations in Britain and abroad, prosecutor Sasha Wass told the jury. On one occasion he assaulted her as she got out of the shower and he also took photos of her as she slept, she added.

A global star of family TV entertainment for more than 50 years, Harris is the biggest name to go on trial since British police launched a major investigation after revelations that the late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile was a prolific child sex abuser, leading to the arrest of more than a dozen ageing celebrities.

The 84-year-old is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls between 1968 and 1986, the youngest of whom was aged just seven or eight at the time of the alleged offence.

Harris denies the charges.

Giving evidence behind a screen, the woman, now aged 49, said she was too scared and intimidated by Harris's fame to tell anyone about the abuse.

"It would have caused chaos and I was too shy about those sort of things," she said. "I felt disgusted in myself for letting him do it."

Wearing a dark suit, pink shirt and brightly coloured striped tie, Harris sat expressionless in dock at Southwark Crown Court as the woman described up to 10 different occasions when, she said, he had assaulted her.

Talking about the incident in her bedroom when she was 15, she said: "He reached my bedroom and I was by the door. He gave me another one of his big hugs and tickles and my heart was booming."

She said Harris then put his hand down her trousers.

"When he got downstairs, he just started laughing and joking with everybody," she added.

The court has previously heard that the entertainer, known to millions in Britain and Australia for his work as a TV presenter and a string of pop-music hits, was a Jekyll and Hyde figure who developed a consistent approach in gaining the trust of young children before abusing them.

The jury of six men and six women was told that Harris used hugs and tickling to surreptitously grope his victims.

"Rolf would fold himself around you - he was a big man," said the 49-year-old woman. "I thought it was cringy at the time... I never liked it.

"I thought it was creepy."

The trial continues. (Reporting by Jack Stubbs; editing by Stephen Addison)

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