Rolf Harris. Photo Reuters
Rolf Harris wrote to the father of one of the girls he's
alleged to have indecently assaulted, apologising for his
behaviour, but insisting he didn't have sexual relations with
her while she was underage.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC opened the crown's sex abuse case by
telling the jury there was a "pattern" of Harris using his
celebrity to approach girls in a friendly fashion before
Harris is accused of indecently assaulting four girls, one as
young as seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986 in the UK. He
denies all the charges.
Ms Wass said one of the four main complainants was a close
friend of Harris's daughter, Bindi, who joined the family on
an overseas holiday in the late 1970s.
The entertainer allegedly abused the then 13-year-old for the
first time in Hawaii after she'd taken a shower at their
hotel and was wrapped in a towel.
Harris indecently touched the teenage girl then and on
subsequent occasions both in Hawaii and Australia.
When the victim returned to London after the holiday she
started drinking and within a few years was a teenage
Ms Wass said the victim was subsequently abused by Harris
over the next 15 years.
"Harris groomed her like a pet on that trip", the prosecutor
said, adding that by the time Bindi's friend was in her 20s
she effectively did whatever the entertainer said.
The complainant herself has said it was like she was his
In 1997, the court heard, Harris wrote a letter to the
complainant's father admitting he'd had sexual relations with
his daughter, but not when she was underage.
"When I see the misery I have caused (her) I am sickened by
myself," Harris wrote.
"When I realised the enormity of what I had done and how I
had affected her whole life I begged her for forgiveness and
she said 'I forgive you'. Whether she meant it or not I don't
He concluded the letter to the complainant's father by
stating: "I would like to talk to you to apologise for
betraying your trust and for unwittingly so harming your
However, Ms Wass said the 1997 letter was akin to former US
president Bill Clinton admitting to smoking cannabis but
insisting he hadn't inhaled. It was a "confess and avoid"
Ms Wass said Harris had effectively "nailed his colours to
the mast" because the defendant couldn't now say Bindi's
friend had invented the entire story.
Earlier, the prosecutor had told the jury that Harris's
assaults were committed at the height of his celebrity and
his fame meant no-one suspected or challenged his behaviour.
His charming and amicable manner hid another darker side, Ms
Wass said, adding the artist and singer was "a Jekyll and
"This hidden side is what this case is about - and it is
known only to Harris and those he molested, the lawyer told
Southwark Crown Court.
"Harris was too famous, too powerful, his reputation made him
The court heard witnesses would reveal they didn't complain
at the time because they thought no-one would believe them.
However, an older TV make-up artist in Australia has said
that to those in the know, Harris was referred to as "the
octopus" because of his roaming hands.
Harris watched Friday's proceedings from a glass-walled dock
inside the court. He listened with the aid of a hearing loop.
The veteran entertainer arrived at court holding hands with
his wife, Alwen, and daughter.
The trial, expected to last until the end of June, continues.