Rolf Harris leaves Southwark Crown Court in London after
being found guilty. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Rolf Harris, a mainstay of family entertainment in
Britain and Australia for more than 50 years, has been found
guilty on 12 charges of indecently assaulting young girls over
Harris, 84, was unanimously convicted by a jury of six men
and six women of sexually assaulting four girls, some as
young as seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986.
An artist and musician who presented prime-time TV shows
mostly aimed at children, Harris is the biggest name to go on
trial since British police launched a major investigation
after revelations that the late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile was
a prolific child sex abuser.
"Rolf Harris used his status and position as a world famous
children's entertainer to sexually assault young girls over a
period spanning 18 years," Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown
Prosecutor in London, told reporters.
"The victims in this case have suffered in silence for many
years and have only recently found the courage to come
During the trial, the prosecution had portrayed the bearded,
bespectacled entertainer, who once painted Queen Elizabeth's
portrait, as a predator who groomed and abused one woman for
her entire teenage and young-adult life.
The London court was told he first assaulted the woman when
she got out of the shower aged 13, and then repeatedly abused
her until she was 28 years old.
"You were able to play with her like she was a toy,"
prosecutor Sasha Wass told Harris, commenting that beneath
his friendly loveable exterior there was a "darker side
"Everybody in this court who has given evidence has said that
they wouldn't have stood a chance against you if it was your
word against theirs. Because you were so famous, so popular,
so loved by everyone," she said.
Harris had denied all the charges and said the allegations
against him were "laughable". He said the girl he abused for
years had invited his sexual advances, leading to a
During his appearance in the witness box, he even sang a
brief extract of his comedy song "Jake the Peg", mimicked the
sound of a didgeridoo - a long, tubular Aboriginal instrument
- and mimed his invention of the wobble-board, an instrument
he made famous in the 1960s.
His wife Alwen had been in court to hear the allegations
against him, but a spokesman for the Harris family said they
would not be commenting on the verdicts.
Harris is one of more than a dozen ageing British celebrities
to have been targeted by police as part of the same
over-arching investigation, named Operation Yewtree, which
was launched after the revelations about Savile emerged.
In 2012, London police said Savile, one of the Britain's
best-known celebrities in the 1970s and 1980s, had abused
hundreds of victims, mainly youngsters, at hospitals and at
BBC premises over six decades until his death aged 84 in
Some of those under investigation complained that Operation
Yewtree had become a witch hunt, but in May it led to the
jailing of Britain's best-known showbusiness publicist, Max
Clifford, for indecently assaulting teenage girls some 30
Harris will be sentenced on Friday.