Rolf Harris sentencing: Victim says attacks left her feeling 'dirty, grubby and disgusting'
The entertainer has appeared in court today to be sentenced today for a string of indecent assaults
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Friday 04 July 2014
One of Rolf Harris’ victims has described how the abuse she suffered had “a detrimental effect” on her life as the entertainer appeared in court today to be sentenced today for a string of indecent assaults.
The court heard of the effects the abuse had on his victims, with the former friend of his daughter Bindi describing how the attacks, which took place when she was aged between 13 and 19, made her feel “dirty, grubby and disgusting”, and led to her developing a drinking habit at an early age.
In a statement read by junior prosecutor Esther Schutzer-Weissman, she said: "The whole sordid saga has traumatised me."
Another victim, who was assaulted by Harris when she visited England as a teenager, said the incident was a "turning point" in her life that she had never recovered from.
In her Victim Impact Statement, she said: "I have never felt safe since, I life in a constant state of anxiety."
Her statement added: "What Mr Harris took from me was my very essence, I believe that it was for Mr Harris a forgettable moment but it was something for me I will never move on from.
"I know the person I am today is not the person I should have been."
Another victim, who was indecently assaulted by Harris as she went to get his autograph at a community centre as a young girl, said the moment was her first taste of independence, but in those few moments her "childhood innocence was gone".
She said she became an angry and confused child, unable to express herself and unable to trust men.
Harris left his Berkshire home, which backs on to the River Thames, by boat shortly after 7am as he made his way to court for sentencing, ITV reported.
He was found guilty of 12 counts at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday in unanimous verdicts by a jury of six men and six women.
Harris, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers between 14 and 19.
The remaining three guilty verdicts were for three counts of indecent assault on Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 1986 when she was 15, when the maximum penalty had changed to 10 years.
The judge has warned the musician's legal team that he is likely to face prison.
The judge said: "In reality, given the conviction on all 12 counts, it is inevitable that the type of sentence that is uppermost in the court's mind is a custodial sentence and he must understand that."
As she mitigated ahead of the entertainer's sentence, Harris's QC Sonia Woodley told Southwark Crown Court that despite his convictions for a string of indecent assaults, the 84-year-old had led an " upright life" for the last 20 years, and had done "much good".
Ms Woodley said that apart from the abuse of his daughter Bindi's friend - which seven of the 12 counts related to - Harris's assaults had been "opportunistic rather than predatory".
She outlined Harris's charitable acts, from events he had attended to raise money; royalties he had donated to the Poppy Appeal; and the fact he had been patron of around 16 charities.
"This is a man who despite the position he now finds himself in has done much good in his life," she added.
Police are now looking into dozens more claims from alleged victims in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The charges Harris was convicted of concern one woman who was groped when she was just seven or eight and asked for his autograph, two teenage girls, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's then best friend.
During the trial, the court also heard from six other women who claim they were groped by Harris while abroad in Australia, New Zealand and Malta. He could not be prosecuted over these alleged incidents in a British court.
Prosecutors also tried to use evidence from another seven women with similar accounts, including a celebrity who said she was groped on live TV, but this was deemed inadmissible.
Harris will not stand trial over allegations he downloaded sexual images of children, prosecutors said today.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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