Sydenham's Rolf Harris admits he admired a 13-year-old's body

News Shopper: Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of Rolf Harris in the dock at Southwark Crown Court. Elizabeth Cook/PA Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of Rolf Harris in the dock at Southwark Crown Court. Elizabeth Cook/PA

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has admitted that he admired a 13-year-old friend of his daughter sexually while on holiday.

The 84-year-old conceded that when he complimented the teenager on her bikini during the holiday in the 1970s, he was actually referring to her body.

Harris, who was cross-examined by prosecutor Sasha Wass QC during his second day in the witness box at his indecent assault trial, also admitted having a "darker side" alongside his public persona.

The star, an early member of the Sydenham Society when he lived in Border Road, is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault on four alleged victims between 1968 and 1986, all of which he denies.

Seven relate to the friend of his daughter, who claims he abused her from the age of 13.

Harris, who wore a dark suit and red tie and was supported in the public gallery by wife Alwen and other family members, sat in the witness box as he admitted that he might have complimented the girl's bikini on holiday when she was 13.

Ms Wass put to him that bringing attention to her bikini was actually a comment on her body, and suggested he was admiring her sexually.

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?"

Ms Wass asked: "What you were saying to (the alleged victim) is 'You have got a great body'."

Harris replied: "I suppose so."

The QC added: "When she was 13?"

Harris answered: "Yes."

Ms Wass said: "And you made it plain to (the alleged victim) on that holiday that you did admire her, admire her body?"

Harris answered: "On one occasion, possibly."

The prosecutor added: "And you admired her sexually, that's what that is."

Harris answered: "It did not compute to that in my mind... in hindsight, I suppose it is."

Ms Wass went on: "It seems from where we are going from your answers to the questions that you admired (the alleged victim's) body sexually during that holiday."

Harris replied: "It's possible, yes."

The prosecutor added: "And, of course, once we work out that you did see (the alleged victim) in a sexual light during that holiday, everything that (she) says becomes realistic, doesn't it?"

Harris replied: "Not as far as I'm concerned, because it never happened."

Referring to his behaviour on the trip, when the girl has claimed he indecently assaulted her several times, Ms Wass suggested Harris "played with her like she was a toy".

He said: "I would never do that."

Earlier, Harris said he knew that touching a 13-year-old was a criminal offence, but denied anything had happened.

As she began cross-examining the veteran star - who described his guilt yesterday at "betraying everyone" with the affair - Ms Wass described him as a "polished performer", saying: "You're pretty good Mr Harris aren't you at disguising that dark side of your character", to which he replied: "Yes".

The prosecutor said: "This case is to decide whether underneath your friendly and loveable 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."

She said the sexual encounters with his daughter's friend were not consensual: "This was child abuse, grooming, and you effectively psychologically dominated that girl into womanhood."

Harris, who yesterday revealed a second affair with a woman he and wife Alwen had allowed to live rent-free in an annexe at their home, has admitted having a relationship with his daughter's friend, but insists it started when she was 18.

Today he told the court it was a "flirtatious thing" made up of isolated sexual encounters, and stemmed from "a feeling of love and friendship".

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."

Ms Wass suggested to the defendant that after the holiday, the alleged victim had been "pretty much trained" by the entertainer.

"I'm going to suggest that you have been pretty thorough in grooming her," the QC said.

"No, it didn't happen," Harris replied.

The defendant, who confirmed he had taken part in an NSPCC campaign to raise awareness about child abuse, said the woman's mother's evidence that she recalled Harris going up to her daughter's bedroom was "probably supporting her daughter's story".

Asked if he was suggesting the mother was lying, he replied: "I imagine so."

Of a claim that he indecently assaulted the girl while his daughter was asleep in the same room, Harris said: "She said all sorts of things which if it wasn't so serious would have been laughable."

He said the girl's allegation that he had looked over at his daughter while performing oral sex on her was "physically not possible".

Moving on to the other charges against him relating to other witnesses, Ms Wass added: "There are a series of events in this case where you have taken advantage of the fact that you are a well loved children's entertainer."

But the artist told the court: "They are all making it up."

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