independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Rolf Harris to stand trial next April accused of assaulting young girls

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris will stand trial next April accused of indecently assaulting young girls, a court heard today.

The 83-year-old faces nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child.

Harris was excused from attending today's preliminary hearing before Mr Justice Nicol at the Old Bailey in London.

A plea hearing at Southwark Crown Court was provisionally set for January 14.

Harris's trial will start on April 30. A venue for the trial has yet to be confirmed.

Harris's lawyer indicated at Westminster Magistrates' Court last month that he will plead not guilty to the allegations.

The Australian artist, musician and television presenter is accused of assaulting two alleged victims, who were aged 14 and 15 at the time, between 1980 and 1986.

Harris has been released on bail on the conditions that he does not contact prosecution witnesses, lives at his home address in Bray, Berkshire, and does not spend time with anyone under the age of 18 without being accompanied by someone over 21.

He was arrested by officers working on Operation Yewtree, the national investigation launched after abuse claims were made against Jimmy Savile, but the allegations against him have no connection to Savile.

The charges against him are:

:: Six counts of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16, from 1980 to 1981;

:: Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14, in 1986;

:: Four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.

Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been in the public eye for decades.

He had his first musical hit, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, in 1960 and continued to enjoy success in the industry as well as forging a television career.

Harris, who has lived in Bray for more than 50 years, has also received a number of honours and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours last year.

Press Association

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