Harris 'barked like dog before groping me', woman claims

By Paul Peachey

Rolf Harris. Photo / AP
Rolf Harris. Photo / AP

Rolf Harris groped a teenage girl at an Its a Celebrity Knockout event after she came across him crouched on all fours barking at a dog, a court heard yesterday.

The woman, now in her fifties, said the incident happened when she was 13 or 14-years-old and working as a waitress at the event in Cambridge in the mid-1970s.

She said she instantly recognised the entertainer, now aged 84, and he beckoned her over to a semi-circle where he barked at the terrier dog.

She claimed Harris then ran his hand down her back before squeezing her buttock while she had her back to the tent and nobody could see what was happening, Southwark Crown Court heard.

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"I just stood there. I couldn't believe what was going on, this famous person putting his arm around me," she told a jury of six men and six women.

"To start, it was a very nervous but a good feeling. However, his hand then moved and his hand went up and down my back and his hand went over my bottom and it was very firm."

The alleged victim told the court that she has a physical reaction whenever she sees Harris on television or in a photograph.

The woman, who at one point in her evidence alerted the judge to a juror who appeared to have fallen asleep, said: "It was Rolf Harris without a doubt and I can't bear seeing any image of him."

The woman is one of four alleged victims aged between seven or eight and 19 that the Australian-born performer allegedly assaulted over an 18-year period.

Earlier, another alleged victim told the court how Harris had groped her when she was a young girl after she went to get his autograph following a performance of his hit song Two Little Boys.

The woman, now aged 52, said the incident happened at a community centre in Portsmouth in around 1969. She claimed that the entertainer touched her "aggressively and forcefully with his big and hairy hands" between her legs after he signed her piece of paper.

Giving evidence behind a screen, she said that her life changed that day and later told members of her family that the entertainer was a "dirty old man" who had touched her as a child.

Asked about her memories, she said: "I can hear a song or something from that era and go straight back. I can shut my eyes and go straight back."

She said she was seven or eight-years-old at the time. "He scared me because he was looking at me all the time. His eyes were fixed and I kind of backed away, and I sat on a chair trying to process what was going on and looking at him carrying on as if nothing had happened," the woman told the court.

"He was looking at me, smiling, and I was smiling, looking excited, and suddenly out of nowhere I felt his hand go down the back and up between my legs," the woman told the court.

The woman said she thought, "Whoa, I just need to get away". Breaking down, she told the court she "wasn't the same child after the alleged abuse".

She rejected suggestions by Harris' legal team that it could have been someone else who had touched her. "It was Rolf," she said.

The case continues.

- The Independent

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