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Rolf Harris pleads not guilty to new sex assault charges

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A London court hearing more indecent assault charges against Rolf Harris has been told he acted “like an octopus” as his hands roved across a disabled woman he allegedly molested.

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The Westminster Magistrates Court was also told Harris asked a 13-year-old girl behind the scenes of a TV show in 1983, “Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?” before allegedly assaulting her.

The 85-year-old on Thursday appeared by video link from Stafford Prison where he’s serving a term of nearly six years on similar charges.

He pleaded not guilty to a further seven charges of indecent assault and one alternative charge of sexual touching.

Wearing a grey suit and colourful tie, Harris asked that people spoke up in court so he could hear them and sat quietly as details of each count were put to District Judge Quentin Purdy by prosecutor Sam Maine.

Defence lawyer Stephen Vullo QC asked that the full details not be read out in front of the “media circus”, but the judge rejected that, saying the public needed to know the nature of the complaints.

The charges relate to seven complainants aged between 12 and 27 at the time of the alleged offences between 1971 and 2004.

The court heard that Harris said to a 14-year-old girl seeking an autograph after a radio show in Portsmouth, “Let’s give you a cuddle” before putting his hand up her skirt and touching her vagina.

In another case involving a 14-year-old youth band member in London in 1977, Harris allegedly put his hand up her mini skirt and indecently touched her.

Maine said that after that incident the girl would turn off the television when Harris appeared and couldn’t stand the sound of his voice.

In an incident at a hospital in 1977, Harris allegedly approached a sight-disabled woman, telling her she was “gorgeous” before kissing her neck and running his hands over her bottom and breasts.

Maine said Harris told the woman he was a “touchy, feely sort of bloke”, while the woman felt “totally trapped” and “absolutely invaded”.

“Mr Harris felt like an octopus … his hands spread as far as he could spread them,” he quoted the woman as saying.

The prosecutor said a 19-year-old woman was told by Harris at a music studio in London that if he joined two dimples on her back to her “bum crack” it would “make the shape of a diamond, which is really sexy”.

It’s also alleged that in a case of sexual touching in 2004 at a BBC studio, Harris grabbed a woman’s breasts and thrust his crotch into her.

The woman reported being told by staff that Harris was a “dirty old man” and to “get with the program” as there was a policy that “no woman rides the lift alone with him”.

Maine told the court that Harris was a “practised offender” who abused the trust placed in him as a celebrity and targeted victims regardless of age or vulnerability.

Judge Purdy referred the case to the Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on April 14 before trial.

Outside court, lawyer Daniel Berke read out a statement from the Harris family saying they were “disappointed and saddened” prosecutors had decided to pursue another trial against Harris, who will turn 86 at the end of March.

“We, for our part, will do all we can as a family to assist him in proving his innocence,” the statement said.

AAP

 

AAP

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