LONDON: Television entertainer Rolf Harris, known to generations of children in Britain and Australia for his friendly screen presence, was found guilty Monday of a string of indecent assaults on young girls that took place from the ‘60s to the ‘80s.
The conviction marked a stunning reversal for Harris, 84, a fixture on children’s TV. The judge said Harris should expect prison time when he is sentenced Friday.
The man who appeared in hundreds of TV shows and even painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will likely now be remembered chiefly as a sexual predator.
A jury found the broadcaster guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault on four victims aged 19 or younger.
Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins said his victims reported a similar pattern of abuse by a man who believed he could act without consequences.
“Rolf Harris used his status and position as a world-famous children’s entertainer to sexually assault young girls over a period spanning 18 years,” she said, adding the victims had “suffered in silence” for decades.
Among the victims was a close friend of his daughter Bindi who told the court that Harris had sexually abused her numerous times when she was a teenager.
Prosecutors said Harris told police the relationship was consensual and started after she reached 18.
During the trial – which saw Harris accompanied to court on most days by his wife Alwen and daughter – six witnesses who were not part of the criminal case testified that Harris had assaulted them. One said she was 11 or 12 when Harris told her he wanted to be the first person to teach her how to tongue kiss.
He is one of several veteran entertainers in the U.K. to face sex charges since TV host Jimmy Savile was exposed as a serial child molester after his death in 2011.