Rolf Harris trial: I had sex with 'coquettish' teenager, but not before she was 18, entertainer tells court

Harris claims the sexual relationship with alleged victim started when she became very flirtatious while staying at his home

Crime Correspondent

The veteran entertainer Rolf Harris today admitted to a string of sexual encounters with a teenager who has accused him of abusing her from the age of 13, a court heard.

Harris, 84, detailed seven occasions from sexual touching to full sex with the woman but denied that any of them happened before she was 18-years-old. He claimed that the “coquettish” teenager had initiated the flirting and was a “willing participant” in their sexual relationship that lasted over a decade, the court was told.

He claimed that the sexual relationship started when the woman – 35 years his junior – became very flirtatious when she was staying at his home in Bray in Berkshire, when visiting Harris’s daughter, a childhood friend.

Taking to the witness stand for the first time today, Harris – who has been married for 56 years – also admitted to an affair with a woman in her 30s after he moved her into a house at the bottom of his garden that he had built for his daughter because she was down on her luck, Southwark Crown Court heard.

He told the court that affair started as the woman ferried him to pantomime performances where he was playing Baron Hardup and only ended when the woman had to move away for specialist treatment for her breast cancer. “I didn’t feel good about it,” Harris said of the affair.

During nearly three hours of evidence today watched by members of his family, including his wife Alwen, Harris sang the lyrics of his hit song "Jake the Peg", described his invention of the “wobble board” and detailed his rise from obscurity to eventually receiving a string of honours and a commission to paint the Queen’s portrait.

He described himself as a "touchy-feely" person but denied the alleged victim’s claims that he touched her, aged 13, when she emerged from the shower, and on the beach in Hawaii when she joined the Harris family on a holiday.

Harris, wearing a pin-stripe suit and colourful tie, claimed that their sexual relationship only began five years later when she became flirtatious as he took her a cup of tea in bed at his home.

He said she was awake and she “seemed to be suddenly interested in me in a completely different way. I touched the outside of her leg.

“I can remember my heart was thumping away. I didn’t know what to do. I got up and left her there with a cup of tea.”

He added: “I find it very hard to discuss this. It’s highly embarrassing – a married man with a much younger girl. I shouldn’t have been doing it.”

Harris went on to detail six other occasions including attempting to have full sex with the woman at his daughter’s home where he stayed the night while appearing in pantomime in Devon. He also claimed that she gave him oral sex when he stopped while giving her a lift home. He described the teenager as “flirtatious and coquettish” and claimed that there had been “sexual chemistry between them.”

Mr Harris, from Bray, in Berkshire, denies 12 counts of indecent assault on four alleged victims over 18 years from 1968.

The case continues.

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