SYDNEY, July 1(Reuters) - Australia on Tuesday moved to strip entertainer Rolf Harris of some of the numerous honours bestowed during a five-decade career after a London court found him guilty on 12 counts of indecently assaulting young girls.
Australian-born Harris, 84, was convicted on Monday of sexually assaulting four girls, some as young as seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986.
“Following his conviction in UK courts, the ARIA Board has made the decision to withdraw the ARIA Hall of Fame award bestowed upon Rolf Harris,” the Australian Recording Industry Association said in a statement on its website.
An artist and musician who presented prime-time TV shows mostly aimed at children, including one aimed at combating sexual abuse of children, Harris was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008.
In the Perth suburb of Bassendean where Harris grew up, the mayor said a meeting would be held later in the week to decide if a plaque outside his family home, and artwork hanging in council buildings, would be removed.
“We simply cannot tolerate the horrendous crimes which he’s been convicted of, so it is a shock but it’s something we must do now to distance ourselves,” John Gangell told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
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.
“It’s a big shock but, you know, obviously he’s been found guilty and he’ll go to jail,” said Debra Frawley, a legal secretary from Sydney.
“...It’s sad for the victims but it’s also sad that Rolf Harris, after a fantastic career, this is what he’s going to be remembered for. He was like everyone’s favourite uncle and you don’t like hearing that he’s done things like that.”
Harris, who denied all the charges and said the allegations against him were “laughable”, will be sentenced on Friday. (Reporting by Lincoln Feast and Thuy Ong; Editing by Nick Macfie)