Entertainer ‘groomed 13-year-old for sex’

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iol pic wldf Britain Rolf Harris~6 Associated Press Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London. File picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth

London - Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris groomed and psychologically dominated a 13-year-old girl before repeatedly sexually abusing her, a British court was told on Wednesday.

A mainstay of family entertainment for more than 50 years, Harris is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls, some as young as seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986.

Seven of the counts relate to one woman.

“This was not a consensual relationship, this was child abuse. Grooming. You effectively psychologically dominated that girl,” Prosecutor Sasha Wass said, addressing the 84-year-old musician and TV-presenter, on the witness stand at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Harris, who denies all the charges, told the jury on Tuesday that he had been in a relationship with the woman, but that this had not started until she was 18, and that it had been an adult and consensual affair.

He also told a series of anecdotes detailing his rise to stardom, including a rendition of his famous comic song “Jake the Peg”.

“Yesterday you delighted us with a demonstration of your many talents,” Wass said.

“The prosecution does not suggest for a moment that you are anything but a brilliant and polished performer. But this case, as you know, is not a talent show. This case is taking place to decide whether beneath your friendly loveable exterior there is a darker side lurking.”

Harris said the relationship had been a series of isolated incidents and purely sexual.

“Did you love her?” asked Wass.

“It still had the feeling of love and affection ... it was a mutual feeling of warmth and affection,” he said, on his second day of evidence at the indecent assault trial - now in its fourth week - and the first day of cross-examination.

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

The court has previously heard that he abused the woman throughout her teenage and young-adult life. On one occasion he molested her within yards of his sun-bathing wife and daughter and performed oral sex on her in the same room as other sleeping children, the jury of six men and six women was told.

Wass said that even when an adult, the woman had been too intimidated by Harris' fame and public-standing to tell police.

“Everybody in this court who has given evidence has said that they wouldn't have stood a chance against you if it was your word against theirs. Because you were so famous, so popular, so loved by everyone,” she said.

“You were able to play with her like she was a toy.”

“Didn't happen,” Harris replied.

The trial continues.


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