ONE of the alleged victims of entertainer Rolf Harris was ‘groped’ at a community centre in Portsmouth at the age of eight after queuing up for an autograph, a court has been told.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says she was touched inappropriately by Mr Harris in 1969.
Mr Harris, of Bray in Berkshire, was a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character whose ‘untouchable’ reputation allowed him to carry out a string of alleged indecent assaults on under-age girls, Southwark Crown Court heard on Friday.
The 84-year-old was even known at an Australian TV channel as ‘the octopus’ because of the way he put his hands all over women, jurors were told.
Opening the case against the star, who denies 12 counts of indecent assault between 1968 and 1986, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said Mr Harris’s alleged victims were ‘overawed’ at meeting him, saying: ‘Mr Harris was too famous, too powerful and his reputation made him untouchable.’
Ms Wass said one charge relates to a woman who claims Mr Harris groped her when she was just eight-years-old as she went to get his autograph at a community centre in Portsmouth in 1969.
The woman, who is now in her 50s, said she watched Mr Harris perform one of his songs at the centre and then queued for his autograph.
But after the entertainer gave her his autograph, he put his hands between her legs twice, in a way that she thought must have been deliberate.
‘It was intrusive, it was not a gentle gesture in any way at all,’ Ms Wass said.
Despite being young, the woman knew what he had done was wrong and threw the autograph away, the court heard.
Ms Wass said that, years later, when Mr Harris appeared on television while the woman was watching with her husband, she described what had happened.
The woman also later made the allegations to a support group, telling them that Mr Harris had indecently assaulted her when she was seven or eight.
And when the entertainer’s name emerged in the press in the wake of the Savile scandal, the woman sent a text message to her husband, saying ‘I told you so’, the court heard.
There came a time when the woman told her support group she was confident enough to speak to the police as she now felt she would be believed, Ms Wass said.
The court then heard details of women who claim they were groped by Mr Harris, but their complaints are not part of the charges on the indictment because they happened abroad before the law changed in 1997 to allow such claims to be prosecuted in the UK.
Mr Harris denies all of the charges against him.
The case continues.