Thursday 17 August 2017

Alleged victim of Rolf Harris 'speaking out for vindication and justice'

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris

Jemma Crew

One of Rolf Harris's alleged victims said she is speaking out for "vindication and justice" as the entertainer sat in court for the first day since his trial began.

Harris, 87, is accused of touching the then 13-year-old schoolgirl after he appeared in a broadcast of the BBC's Saturday Superstore in 1983.

He also allegedly asked the young teenager if she often got molested on a Saturday morning, which his defence team claimed had been said in a jokey way.

It is the first time the jury has seen the Australia-born former television star, who was released from HMP Stafford on Friday morning, in person for his indecent assault trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The complainant, who gave evidence via video link as Harris followed with a hearing loop, was quizzed on her motives for coming forward 30 years after the alleged incident.

Asked by prosecutor Jonathan Rees if she had made a claim for compensation, she said: "No I haven't, and I don't intend to.

"This has never been about compensation, it's been about vindication and justice."

She added that coming forward had been "the hardest thing I have ever had to do".

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Rolf Harris appearing by video link at Southwark Crown Court in London. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Rolf Harris appearing by video link at Southwark Crown Court in London. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Read More: Rolf Harris cleared of three sex charges in second trial

Of the past few decades, she said: "It's been an awful experience, and certainly not something I would do for any kind of fun or any other reason.

"All I want is entirely vindication and justice for the people these things happened to over the years."

Harris denies four charges against three women between 1971 and 1983.

His niece Jenny looked on as the entertainer, who previously appeared via video link, sat in the dock wearing a dark suit and patterned tie.

He is expected to follow the rest of proceedings in person.

The court heard the alleged victim made her official complaint in July 2014, the same day the Daily Star website ran a piece with the headline "Victims of Rolf Harris to receive £200,000 in compensation".

She said she had not been aware of the headline as she was "not really a Daily Star reader".

Rolf Harris and daughter Bindi Harris
Rolf Harris and daughter Bindi Harris

The woman said she had been aware of people claiming compensation, but not of the exact sums of money.

Read More: Rolf Harris 'pulled teen girl (14) onto his lap' and assaulted her - court hears

Asked why she waited so long to come forward she replied: "Because it is quite a decision to make, to come forward when you haven't been believed by members of your own family and others ... it takes a while to make a decision to come forward and talk to the police."

The court was also told that Harris was joking when he allegedly asked the young girl if she often got molested on a Saturday morning.

Stephen Vullo QC asked the complainant: "So it's clear I don't dispute on Mr Harris's behalf he may have said something to you along the lines of 'do you like to be molested on a Saturday morning?' or something like that, but he would have said that in a jokey fashion while maybe marching you up and down the corridor?"

She replied: "No absolutely not."

She went on: "I fail to see, whether it is said to a group or a single child, how that can be misconstrued as a joke in any way."

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