A woman confided in her schoolfriend that Rolf Harris was a “dirty old man” who would “touch her up”, a court has heard.
And the mother of Harris’s main accuser has told how he once visited her home on his own when her daughter was 14 or 15, asked where her daughter was, then went upstairs – but she thought nothing of it because she trusted him.
Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault. Seven of those charges related to the complainant who was in the witness stand at Southwark Crown Court on Monday and Tuesday.
The complainant claims two of those assaults happened when Harris visited her at her family home, and the abuse began on a holiday when she was only 13.
On Wednesday, a woman who said she was a close friend at school of the main complainant, took the stand.
The witness said she knew Harris was a friend of the girl’s family, and “she did mention him to me, she described him as a bit of a dirty old man”.
She thought she was probably still at school when the friend confided in her.
“He used to get her to sit on his lap and then touch her up,” she said. “It was a shocking conversation, he is a well known celebrity, well-loved by a lot of people. I would never imagine in a million years. I remember feeling quite horrified on her behalf that this had happened.”
Many years later, the complainant again mentioned it in a phone call while she was going through counselling and “issues from the past had come up and she wanted to talk to me about them”, the witness said.
“She told me Rolf Harris had been abusing her through her teens and beyond.”
The complainant told her it began at age 13 or 14. “She used to sit on his lap and he would feel her up and that’s when it began.”
She advised the complainant to go to the police but she replied she couldn’t because she was “not in a good place”.
The complainant’s mother also took the witness stand, saying she remembered a time when Harris visited her home on his own when her daughter was aged 14 or 15.
“He just said ‘where’s [the complainant]’, and I said ‘she’s upstairs’,” she said. “He then went upstairs for half an hour or more.”
The witness said she didn’t think it was untoward because “I trusted him. You don’t suspect this sort of thing”.
When she was older, she confronted her daughter about her drinking.
“She just said ‘well I have been abused all my life’,” the witness said. “I just said ‘what do you mean?’ She had been abused by her schoolfriend’s father, which amazed me.
“She wouldn’t tell me who but I wouldn’t budge until she told me. She then said ‘it’s Rolf’.”
The court was also read a statement by a schoolteacher who taught at the complainant’s school, who at the time recorded “she is prone to tears and has twice been weeping about private/home matters”, though she could not remember any more details.
“It must have meant [she] was having extreme emotional difficulty,” more than usual teenage dramas, the statement said.
The trial before Mr Justice Sweeney continues.
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