Monday 23 October 2017

Rolf Harris gave girl (13) 'creepy' hugs, court told

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris would give a girl "creepy" hugs before he indecently assaulted her during a holiday in Hawaii when she was 13, a jury has heard.

Giving evidence from behind a curtain at Southwark Crown Court in London today, the woman claimed the 84-year-old touched her when she had just got out of the shower and was wrapped in only a towel during the trip in 1978.

She said that as she stood in the towel: "He just came over and gave me one of his big hugs and tickles."

While her family gave each other "proper hugs", the woman said the way Harris embraced her was " a bit creepy".

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'."

She claims he indecently assaulted her with his fingers.

After the claimed assault, the alleged victim said: "He just took his fingers out and pretended as if nothing had happened and said 'See you downstairs'."

Harris, sitting in the glass-walled dock, looked down at the floor as he listened to proceedings through a hearing loop.

His wife Alwen, his niece and his brother-in-law were among relatives in the packed public gallery, along with dozens of journalists.

The woman said: "I was shocked and panicked by it because I didn't know what to do. I thought 'I don't know quite what's happened here but whatever it is, it's not good'.

"I just sat on the edge of the bed in a state of shock, really."

The alleged incident is not included among charges that Harris faces, because it happened abroad before such offences could be prosecuted in the UK.

But the woman is named on seven of the 12 indecent assault charges against the artist and musician, all of which he denies. She claims that Harris went on to abuse her for a number of years.

The woman, who jurors have heard was a friend of Harris's daughter Bindi, said he struck again during the same holiday, fondling her crotch as he wrapped a towel round her on the beach.

She said the star's wife and daughter were sunbathing "a few feet away" when he put his hand inside the towel, and down her bikini bottoms.

Asked why she did not tell them or shout out, she said: "I was a very shy child, excruciatingly shy really, and I just hadn't got the guts to shout out and I thought, well, if you shout out it will cause mayhem anyway. It was Bindi's dad and Alwen's husband."

Later in the same holiday, she was again fondled by Harris while she was wearing her bikini.

The woman, who jurors have heard went on to have a number of sexual encounters with Harris until her late 20s, said he told her later that the bikini she wore on that holiday had "always turned him on".

She told the court she was "scared" of the entertainer, saying: "It was quite an early age I was scared of him."

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