LONDON (Reuters) - Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was charged in a London court on Monday with 13 child sex offences, dating back to the 1980s, as part of an investigation which has led to the arrest of more than a dozen celebrities.
Harris, 83, arrived at Westminster Magistrates Court with his wife and was released on conditional bail after the hearing.
He was committed for trial at Southwark Crown Court where he is due to appear on October 7. His lawyer indicated he would be pleading not guilty, according to the BBC.
Harris made no comment as he left the court, surrounded by dozens of photographers and journalists. His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
The charges follow Harris’s arrest in March by British police investigating allegations of child sexual abuse as part of an investigation sparked by revelations that the late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile was a prolific child sex abuser.
Harris’s alleged offences involve nine counts of indecent assault related to two girls aged under 16 in the 1980s and four counts of making indecent images of a child last year. He denies all wrongdoing.
Harris has been a family favorite in Australia and Britain for more than 50 years, hosting TV shows and producing chart hits including “Two Little Boys” and “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” while playing the didgeridoo and his own invention, the wobble board.
The child abuse investigation, called Operation Yewtree, was set up after it emerged following Savile’s death in 2011 that the TV star of the 1970s and 1980s committed sex crimes on an unprecedented scale over six decades.
The operation developed three strands: one looking at Savile, a second at allegations against “Savile and others”, and a third on complaints arising against people unconnected to Savile. Harris fell into the third category.
The inquiry has led to the arrests of 14 men involved in the British entertainment industry in the 1970 and 1980s, with four people charged so far, including former BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis and celebrity publicist Max Clifford.
(Refiles to add UK to headline)
Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Louise Ireland and Belinda Goldsmith