Rolf Harris Guilty of twelve counts of indecent assault

From the Huffington Post

From the Huffington Post

Introduction

On 30th June 2014, Rolf Harris, 84, was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault at Southwark Crown Court. 

Offences

Harris was charged with 12 counts of indecent assault (Sexual Offences Act 1956 s 14) 

The 12 charges were in relation to four different complainants occurring between 1968 and 1986. The complainants were aged between seven and 19.

We have a factsheet on historic sex offences.

Individual counts

Complainant 1 – C1

How many counts? Seven of the 12 counts related to this complainant

When were the offences alleged to have been committed? 1978 – 1985

How old was the complainant? 13 – 19 (although it was said that the complainant alleged she was abused by Harris up to age 29)

Who was she? A friend of Harris’ daughter. 

The alleged activity The Mirror reported: Harris approached the girl in her room after she came out of the shower wrapped only in a towel, then indecently assaulted her “on the pretext of a hug and tickle”.

Details During a family holiday to Hawaii in 1978, C1 was assaulted by Harris. He went on to touch C1 several more times during the holiday, including after they moved on to Australia for the trip. 

The Mirror reported: She said had just got out of the shower and was wrapped in only a towel when he came over and gave her a “cringey” hug.

She told the jury of six women and six men: “The way he hugged you and touched you all over, it was cringey.

“The way Rolf folded himself around you, he was a big man…he enfolded you in his arms and then touched you up and down over your body.

“He’d go ‘ooh’.”

He then sexually assaulted her before going back downstairs as if “nothing had happened”, the woman told the court.

C1 also said Harris twice led her away from a jetty where she had been sunbathing to abuse her down the side of the house.

However in cross examination Harris’ barrister questioned C1 about her diary,  particularly asking why there was no mention in her diary of the alleged abuse. The diary entry for that day commented “Today was great, we went on the beach and went swimming.”

Further assaults were said to have taken place in her own home during her teens and on one occasion when other people – including Harris’ wife – were present in the room. C1 developed a drinking problem at age 14 and would drink “shed loads of gin” when Harris visited her family home. C1 also alleged that Harris abused her when she was in bed next to Harris’ daughter Bindi. 

When C1 was 14, Harris followed her to her room, and said she “turned him on” before assaulting her.

After C1 turned 19 there were occasions when she consented to sexual encounters with Harris, which continued until she was 29.

On one occasion she performed a sex act on Harris on the M4 motorway in Harris’ red Mercedes when she was 22 in 1987.

C1 went to see Harris in Cinderella in Wimbledon in 1994.

She performed a sex act on him in his dressing room before the panto started.

She brought the abuse to an end when she was 29.

C1’s father wrote a letter to Harris after C1 told him of the abuse. Harris replied in 1997 admitting a sexual relationship, denying that it began when she was aged 13 and  he had been left feeling “sickened” to learn of the misery he had caused her.

Harris said he believed that “everything that had taken place had progressed from a feeling of love and friendship”, and there was “no rape, no physical forcing”.

Complainant 2 – C2

How many counts? 1

When were they committed? 1968

How old was the complainant? 7 or 8

Details When aged 8, C2 saw Harris at a community centre. in Portsmouth She went to get his autograph. He touched her indecently in an ‘intrusive’ way. 

The Mirror reported: C2 told jurors: “He was very very close, he was leaning into me.

“I thought he was warm, being accommodating to a small child.

“He was looking at me smiling and I smiled and was looking excited, then from out of nowhere I felt his hand go down my back and up between my legs.

“It was very quick, so quick that I thought to myself ‘what’s just happened’.”

The girl “could not process” what had happened and thought it may have been an accident but Harris then repeated the same move.

She said: “More or less instantly the hand was back. I don’t recall it on my back that time, but it was straight up between my legs quite aggressively and forcefully and it didn’t matter if it was going to hurt me or not.”

Complainant 3 – C3

How many counts? 1

When were they committed? 1975

How old was the complainant? 14

Details At an ‘It’s a Knockout’ event in Cambridge, C3 saw Harris playing with a dog. He said “oh look who’s here’ before fondling her.

The Mirror reported: C3 told the jury of six men and six women that Harris put his arm around her, and moved his hand up and down her back, before squeezing her bottom.

With her voice wavering, she said: “I can’t remember the exact words but he made some motion to me ‘ come up’, and I can see it in my mind’s eye as clear as if it was happening now. He came up and put his arm around my left shoulder.

“It was quite a firm hold. I just stood there. I couldn’t believe what was going on, this famous person putting his arm around me.

“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.”

Complainant 4 – C4

Anonymity – C4 had reportedly ‘waived’ her right to anonymity. Whilst there is provision for that under the relevant legislation, we will air on the side of caution and refer to her as C4.

How many counts? 3

When were they committed? ‘late 1980s’

How old was the complainant? 15

Details C4 met Harris whilst she was part of a theatre group in Australia. The group travelled to the UK in 1986 where they met Rolf and had dinner at a London pub where he told funny stories. He asked the girls to sit on his lap whilst he touched them inappropriately. C4 was in shock and went to the bathroom. When she left the bathroom Harris was waiting for her and groped her again. Harris stopped when someone walked by. 

The Mirror reported: C4 then aged 15, said she was invited to sit on the entertainer’s lap, and that his hand began to creep up her thigh.

She said: “I could feel that there was some movement happening beneath me. He was moving back and forth rubbing against me.”

The defence commented that C4’s decision to give press interviews about the alleged abuse demonstrated a desire to make money out of Harris. 

Other alleged victims

The court also heard from five other women who claimed to have been victims of Harris’ behaviour. As some of the behaviour was committed outside of the UK and before legislation enabled such offences to be tried in the UK, the evidence was adduced to attempt to demonstrate how Harris had a defined pattern of behaviour in relation to young women and girls. The jury were not asked to consider whether he was guilty of those allegations. The most notable allegation to feature in the papers was probably that Harris told an 11-year-old girl, “I want to be the first one to give you a tongue kiss,” as he lunged at her during a trip to Australia in 1969.

Jury questions

The media are always fascinated by these. Often they can give an inaccurate indication as to the stage or thought process of the jury and barristers tend to tell their clients not to take too much heart (or dismay) from a particular question asked by their jury.

The jury asked the Judge a question on Friday 20 June. The Guardian reported that they were sent home for the weekend early after asking the Judge what happens if they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

The Judge replied: “At the moment the only verdict on each count I can accept from you is one upon which you are all agreed.

Sentencing

Maximum sentences

Sexual Offences Act 1956 s 14 – the law was amended over the years and the maximum sentence changes depending on when the offence was committed. The relevant periods are:

1 January 1957 – 31 December 1960: 2 years

1 January 1961 – 15 September 1985: 2 years or 5 years if victim under 13 and age stated on indictment

16 September 1985 onwards: 10 years

What does this mean for Rolf Harris?

C1 – max sentence on each count 2 years

C2 – max sentence 5 years provided the indictment specifies C2 was aged under 13

C3 – max sentence 2 years

C4 – max sentence on each count 10 years

How will the Judge approach the case?

The starting point for sentencing historic sexual offences is the new sexual offences guideline. We have a fact sheet on the sentencing of historic sexual offences which explains the way the Judge will approach the sentencing exercise. 

Additionally, as there are multiple counts to sentence for, our guide on totality and concurrent and consecutive sentences may be of interest.

He will be sentenced on Friday 4 July at 10am. He was bailed until then.

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24 thoughts on “Rolf Harris Guilty of twelve counts of indecent assault

  1. Bill

    According to initial press reports, Harris was also charged with making indecent images of children, although it appears he was not tried for these in the end, presumably the charges were discontinued, is it likely that these discontinued charges were not told to the jury because of a potential prejudicial effect?

    Reply
    1. JESK1985

      When indecent images are found on someone’s computer and they have already been charged with a sex crime, they are usually put off to another trial due to their prejudicial nature.

      However, given the likely sentence that he will receive for these crimes they may choose not to bother prosecuting the images.

      Reply
    2. XNT

      Rolf paints the nude body, as many artists do, so I believe these indecent images may have been for research and difficult to judge, ie if the content wasnt referring to any sexual activity.
      Ironically however it would seem Rolf has been made guilty through accusation alone. Justice by jury. An outdated system. I believe his relationship with his daughters friend,despite him claiming she was over 16 or 18,was his true downfall – and put the stamp of guilt on him from the media, public and of course jury. Is he a true paedophile? Impossible to tell without any details whatsoever if any proof was really provided in court, but whenever I read about an accuser linked to the word ‘compensation’ I usually switch off immediately.

      Reply
      1. Claire Khaw (@ntfem)

        From now on any wealthy man is fair game if a woman fancies a bit of compo. It is probably still worth doing even if he is not worth suing if you are a malicious slut happy to ruin the life of any man you have suddenly taken a dislike to.

  2. donaldelley

    Rolf Harris is 84. If he gets 10 years he’ll be 94 if he lives that long. Is this too severe? I think not. Ask his victims. Some have suffered greatly. Even been suicidal. Even are currently suicidal at times. No sentence is too severe. You reap what you sow. It’s great pedophiles are being brought to justice all over the world. Donald

    Reply
  3. duncanheenan

    OK he shouldn’t have done it, but it was only groping, except the first mentioned, when the sex was fully consentual for about 10 years with an over 18 – hardly ‘abuse’.
    I am not saying he shouldn’t be punished, but punishment won’t make the victims any better, and he’s not likely to reoffend, so I think a suspended sentence is enough. His life has been ruined anyway.

    Reply
    1. Donald Elley

      Duncan. You are not correct when you write “the sex was fully consensual for about 10 years with an over 18- hardly “abuse”. This was what Rolf Harris was saying. In fact, the young female victim was 13 when the grooming and abuse started. The Court agreed with her. Rolf Harris has been convicted of this offence. The incidents that the Prosecution chose to prosecute are only the tip of the Iceberg. They chose the cases committed in the UK and the ones they had the strongest evidence for. The Police had uncovered numerous incidents of sexual abuse and pedophile activity by Rolf Harris which they haven’t introduced at the Trial. They also found child sex pornography in his home and on his computer. They retrieved images that he’d deleted. In respect to his likelihood to re-offending, he is extremely likely will re-offend. Pedophiles continue their deviation until we are all given relief from them by their death. Donald

      Reply
      1. duncanheenan

        The ‘abuse ‘ of the girl he later had an affair with was not ‘sex’ in the penetrative sense, or he would have been charged with rape of a minor. Until she was over 18 it was just groping. Once she was over 18 and it was with full consent it was legal, which is why he was not charged with rape.
        The other things you allege were no part of the case and, so far as I am aware, under English Law (since Magna Carta at least) you can not be punished without a conviction, and you can’t have a conviction without a charge. Your outrage may do impress the Daily Mail, but it couldn’t cut any ice in Court.

      2. Claire Khaw (@ntfem)

        The mother of Gary Glitter – Britain’s most infamous paedophile – was an unmarried mother. There is a definite link between widespread female promiscuity and the phenomenon of the British now finding paedophile under every bush.

    2. Claire Khaw (@ntfem)

      http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-bad-character-of-rolf-harris.html

      The more promiscuous the female, the more unreliable her grasp of truth and reality

      She was an alcoholic.

      Was this point taken?

      If the complainant is alleging that she only became an alcoholic because of the sex she had with Rolf Harris, one must wonder at the kind of parenting she received.

      Did this complainant go on to become sexually promiscuous after the alleged sexual contact with Rolf Harris? Did her parents not notice, warn or advise her against such a lifestyle choice?

      Is it just possible that she would have become sexually promiscuous anyway, even if she had never met Rolf Harris?

      Her parents could have been cross-examined on what she was like as a daughter and when they noticed she was going wrong.

      Is it possible that Rolf Harris would not have sexually abused her as she alleged if she had in some way suggested directly or indirectly that she welcomed his attentions?

      Was Harris asked the occasion of his first sexual contact with her and asked to give all the gory details? Doing so would be necessary to establish the time of that first sexual encounter and also her age, as well as her demeanour.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rolf-harris-trial-five-key-3531845

      She could have complained to Bindi if she really was such a close friend or told her parents or just not gone to his house any more, but she clearly preferred to continue going to his house and continuing to have sexual encounters to him. By going to the place of alleged abuse, she must be deemed to have consented and invited it. If she invited it, then it was not abuse.

      Reply
  4. Georgina

    Seems to me the cimes are not thought to be that serious if the penalty is a max of 2 years gaol or if they are serious the penalty has not been reviewed to match the offence?….after all driving under the influence has a max sentence of 5 years……..Not many offenders get max sentences.

    Reply
    1. Donald Elley

      Georgina. Yes the sentences available for child sex offences in the UK appear to be light although one of the Counts which Rolf Harris has been found guilty of carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Donald

      Reply
  5. Loree lilygreen

    I am shocked and saddened by this news abourt Rolf Harris. I always thought he had very kind face. Praying for family and victims. Praying for Rolf Harris too.

    Reply
    1. Ava

      Are your for real, I have always thought he had the face of a deviant… as a child he freaked me out & now I know why… Pray for his victims not him… gosh lady I would only pray that he confesses to his sins, then he might be worth praying for.

      Reply
    2. Claire Khaw (@ntfem)

      Pray also that enough people in the legal establishment notice that the criminal standard of proof has been unilaterally lowered and will do something about it.

      Pray too that they will be successful in their attempts to change the rules back to the one before we all started suffering from paedo hysteria.

      Reply
  6. Georgina

    Puton has the face of a defence lawyer with a very friendly smile………..are you two really serious about looks in judging behaviour ?……..

    Reply
  7. Claire Khaw (@ntfem)

    http://thevoiceofreason-ann.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/lord-herschell-says-yeah-but-no-but.html

    I would make it a rule that UNCORROBORATED testimony is never admissible, no matter how many complainants there are.

    This means if it is just one person’s word against another, forget it, unless the alleged offence was reported within 4 weeks of the commission of the alleged offence to the police.

    I think 4 weeks is time enough. If it was really serious you would report it immediately without passing go and without collecting £200. If you took 4 weeks to think about it and then decided not to, then you weren’t obviously that bothered about it.

    Extensions are only permitted if you were kidnapped, imprisoned and kept as a sex slave, obviously. Then time would start to run the moment you were in a position to report the sexual abuse you suffered.

    If the victim is a child then time runs from the time the parent/guardian/carer knew of the alleged abuse.

    I think that is nice and clear, don’t you?

    Reply
  8. harry

    Within myself I find it very difficult to judge this case due to the long length in time between the offence and the judgement, I am further dismayed by victims claiming money as this may be the motivation for them to point the finger?

    Please note I am not making a judgement just an observation.

    When the sentence is announced I will be interested to compare the sentence with the Rotherham Sex Trafficking Gang who had sentences that averaged 8.5 yrs (that’s including a sentence od 19 years which bumps up the average) which mean these heinous guys could be out of prison in just over 4 yrs. To me these sex trafficking gangs either need life imprisonment or their life taken away.

    Reply

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