Rolf Harris groped blind, disabled woman: prosecutor

2 min

London (AFP)

Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris groped several women and girls in public, including a blind and disabled victim, British prosecutors said Wednesday.

The former television star, 86, is on trial for seven counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault which allegedly took place between 1971 and 2003.

A judge ruled in December that Harris did not have to attend the trial in person due to his age and health. He watched the hearing at a London court via video link.

Harris has been a household name in Britain for more than 50 years as a much-loved television presenter, musician and songwriter.

One alleged victim, an adult at the time who is blind and suffers from cerebral palsy, claims Harris touched her breasts when he was a guest on a hospital radio show that she presented in 1976.

Harris "kissed the back of her neck and... began slobbering over her" at the start of the alleged assault, prosecutor Jonathan Rees told jurors.

Another woman said Harris put his hand up her skirt when she was 12, as she and her mother approached him for an autograph.

"Whether it was Mr Harris's celebrity status that apparently made him so brazen is something that you may wish to consider," Rees said.

"Harris was convicted of 12 offences of indecent assault, carried out on four female victims who were variously aged between 8 and 19" at an earlier trial, Rees said.

Harris, who denies the allegations, appeared on a screen, seated at a table wearing a dark jacket and tie.

The trial is expected to last around six weeks.

After studying art in London, Harris found fame in the 1960s when he secured his own television show after landing work at the BBC.

He scored a chart hit with the 1969 track "Two Little Boys", about two youngsters who grow up to fight in a war together, and performed his song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" with the Beatles.

His success continued with the BBC's "Animal Hospital" in the 1990s and in 2005 he painted an 80th birthday portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.