Entertainer Rolf Harris takes the stand to deny indecent assault charges

Reuters News
Posted: May 27, 2014 7:10 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris told a jury of his rise to stardom on Tuesday and even sang a snatch of his famous comedy song "Jake the Peg" as he gave evidence for the first time in his indecent assault trial.

Harris, 84, is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls between 1968 and 1986, many of whom were too intimidated by his fame to go to the police.

He denies all the charges.

The court has previously heard that he abused one of his alleged victims for her entire teenage life, first assaulting her as she got out of the shower whilst on holiday.

"She says that when she came out of the shower, you were there and you assaulted her. Did it happen?" asked Sonia Woodley, defending.

"No, didn’t happen," replied Harris, who has made his name as a TV presenter, musician and artist over a career spanning more than 50 years.

"She said that you hugged her and she found it creepy. Have you hugged her?" asked Woodley.

"Yes I have," Harris replied. "I’m a very touchy feely sort of person."

Harris also denied sexually assaulting the girl on a beach, within yards of his sunbathing wife and daughter.

The jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court has previously heard that Harris, known to millions in Britain and Australia as a mainstay of family entertainment, was a Jekyll and Hyde figure who gained the trust of children before repeatedly abusing them.

The trial continues.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Stephen Addison)