A Government Minister is promising any New Zealand women
molested by disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris will have their
claims fully investigated.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett told the Herald on
Sunday last night those indecently assaulted by the
84-year-old would get help. She also urged any new victims to
Harris was yesterday jailed for five years and nine months
for 12 sexual assaults on girls and young women. British
Metropolitan Police confirmed they have numerous fresh
allegations against Harris, including from Australian and New
In the past 48 hours, more than a dozen women have told
National MP Maggie Barry they too were indecently assaulted
by the convicted paedophile, after she revealed he groped her
before a radio interview. One victim told Barry she was
turned away when she asked ACC for help six years ago.
An ACC spokesperson expressed concern at this yesterday and
said the agency would never send someone away in an
Bennett reassured any of Harris' victims they would be heard
no matter how old the incident.
"It is important women feel supported to take action and I
want them to feel safe in asking for help," said Bennett.
"I've been talking to Police Minister Anne Tolley and I'd
encourage anyone who has been molested by Rolf Harris to make
a criminal complaint."
Barry said going public about her encounter had prompted a
deluge of new abuse allegations. At least one was planning to
make a police complaint.
Barry said some of the women were told by agencies or trusted
adults they were "fantasists".
"A lot said: 'We said Rolf Harris touched us inappropriately
but we weren't believed at all.'
"Others told us, 'how can you say these things about lovely
"One that sticks in my mind was a woman who spoke to ACC six
years ago and was told there was nothing they could do to
ACC senior media advisor Glenn Donovan said that immediate
counselling support was available for anyone who lodged a
sensitive claim, and the corporation is willing to reconsider
past decisions based on new information.
Barry said she had also been contacted by a victim of one of
England's worst celebrity paedophiles, Jimmy Savile, whose
offending sparked Operation Yewtree, which saw Harris
She urged women to come forward to politicians, Bennett or
police if they had been subjected to indecencies at the hands
of the "dirty bugger".
She said most women who had spoken of their abuse had lost
trust in government agencies, including foster homes, ACC and
the Child, Youth and Family Service.
She would personally advocate for the dozen or so women who
came forward after she shared her experience. Metropolitan
police spokesman Eddie Townsend said investigating officers
are examining new allegations against Harris.
"With the amount we're dealing with it's going to take some
time to decide whether fresh charges will be laid," he said.
- Lynley Bilby of the Herald on Sunday