Rolf Harris has a proven propensity for indecently assaulting young females and is guilty of further offences of “unwanted groping”, the prosecution has told a London jury in his new trial.

The 86-year-old entertainer is facing a six-week trial in Southwark Crown Court on seven charges of indecent assault against women and girls and one alternative charge of sexual assault.

The charges relate to alleged offences committed between 1971 and 2004 against complainants aged between 12 and 42 at the time and when Harris was aged between 41 and 74.

Prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Rees on Wednesday told the jury of seven women and six men that they would recognise Harris as someone who had been an artist, musician, popular entertainer and television personality of international standing for over 50 years.

But he said that in July 2014 Harris had been convicted of 12 offences of indecent assault against four female victims aged between 8 and 19 at the time of the offences between 1969 and 1986.

Harris is now serving a sentence of nearly six years on those charges and has been granted leave to appear at his new trial by videolink from Stafford Prison due to his age and state of health.

Mr Rees told the jury that none of the alleged assaults in the new trial involved sexual penetration of any kind.

“Most of the behaviour complained of falls into a broad category that might be described as unwanted groping, and includes, for example, grabbing or touching breasts over clothing, and slipping a hand up or into a skirt to touch the vaginal area,” he said.

Mr Rees said that a notable feature of the offending was it all occurred in public settings when there were other people in the near vicinity.

 He said the prosecution would argue that, despite Harris saying he would not act in such a way, his previous convictions established he had “a propensity for indecently assaulting young females”.

Mr Rees said the jury might want to consider whether Mr Harris’ celebrity status “made him so brazen”.

Harris, wearing a dark suit and tie, was visible on videolink sitting quietly at a table listening to the opening address by Mr Rees.

Mr Rees told the jury the earliest charge dated to July 1971 when Harris gave out awards at a creative music festival at London’s Lyceum theatre, where he allegedly molested a 14-year-old youth brass band member.

He said the girl recalled that Harris “appeared to take a shine to her” and smiled at her in what she described as a ‘smirky way’.

When Harris was signing autographs the girl went across to him and she alleged he pulled her onto his lap then put his hand up her skirt, “touching her vagina over her tights and knickers”.

 

 

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