Rolf Harris trial: TV star 'told 13-year-old girl in bikini: You've got a great body'

TV star accused of 'disguising dark side of his character'

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The Independent Online

Rolf Harris has admitted that he sexually admired a 13-year-old friend of his daughter in her swimsuit while they were on holiday.

The 84-year-old told Southwark Crown Court that when he complimented the teenager on her bikini during a family trip to Hawaii in the 1970s, he was actually complimenting her body.

Harris, 84, denies 12 counts of indecent assault on girls and women between 1968 and 1986.

Seven relate to the friend of his daughter, who claims the abuse led her to become an alcoholic.

He made the admission while being cross-examined for the prosecution by Sasha Wass QC during his second day in the witness box.

She asked: “Do you accept that when a man tells a woman or a girl that they look lovely in a bikini, they are not actually admiring the clothing, but they are admiring the person's body?”

Harris said it was "possibly" the case and later told the jury that although it did not cross his mind at the time, "in hindsight" he realised he admired her sexually.

He claimed he had a consensual sexual relationship with the girl years later when she was 18 but denies her allegations of sexual assault on the holiday.

Referring to the television star's alleged behaviour on the trip, Ms Wass suggested Harris “played with [the girl] like she was a toy”.

He said: “I would never do that.”

The prosecution is arguing that the affair was not consensual but constituted "child abuse" and grooming.

Ms Wass said: “This case is to decide whether underneath your friendly and lovable exterior there's a darker side lurking.

"The issue we really have to fathom from this court is how dark that dark side really is."

Asking him to explain what he meant in a letter of apology he later wrote to the woman's father after she had told her family of the alleged abuse, Ms Wass accused Harris of thinking he was "untouchable".

Speaking in a low voice, Harris told jurors: "That's not what I intended at all."

He added that he "laughed in disbelief" when he found out the alleged victim had been "terrified" of him.

He was surprised to learn she thought of him as the "great television star Rolf Harris", he told the court, adding: "I had no idea she thought of me in that way."

Harris, of Bray, Berkshire, denies all charges. The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA