London: Rolf Harris will be released from prison on Friday but back in court by Monday to face a fresh trial over allegations of groping teenage girls.
Harris is to be released from Stafford prison on Friday, having served time for convictions in 2014, but has been ordered to appear in-person at court on Monday where he is facing four counts of indecent assault.
The 87-year-old has been attending his trial via video link which the jury learnt for the first time on Thursday was from Stafford Prison in Britain’s West Midlands. Judge Deborah Taylor granted the Australian entertainer bail on Thursday after it was sought by his barristers and not opposed by the prosecution.
The judge urged the jury, comprising seven women and five men, not to let Harris’ priors convictions or the fact that he had been released on bail affect their judgment of the evidence they are currently hearing at Southwark Crown Court.
“He will no longer be appearing via video link and will be attending what remains of this trial in person from Monday next week,” Judge Taylor said.
Harris is pleading not guilty to all four charges involving three teenage girls relating to three separate incidents dating between 1971 and 1983.
All three women have now testified to the trial which is in its fourth day. The women, who came forward with their allegations independently of each other, all said that in 2012 they told their friends and families that “Rolf will be next” when it was revealed the BBC identity Jimmy Savile was a sexual predator.
The third accuser told the jury that in 1983 when she was 13-years of age, Harris had approached her in a green room at a filming of a BBC Saturday Superstore program and touched her right breast, asking “do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?”
She said the incident lasted about four or five seconds, after which Harris walked away. “I was in shock because I couldn’t comprehend what has just happened.”
She said she immediately told her sister who dismissed her saying “that’s Rolf Harris, don’t be silly.” “She just wouldn’t believe it because it was Rolf Harris,” she said.
The woman said that response had led her not to report the incident. “From my point of view no one was taking it seriously so I didn’t take it any further at that stage.”
But the woman said over the years she would tell “countless” friends and family, whenever Harris came on the television, that “he’s a pervert.”
The court heard the woman first contacted police about the matter on July 7, 2014 which was three days after Harris had been sentenced. She said when Mr Harris had been arrested in 2013 her friends and family had phoned her with the news but she remained reluctant to come forward. “I still felt I wouldn’t be believed,” she said, under cross-examination by Harris’ barrister Stephen Vullo QC.
But she said she felt empowered by Harris’ conviction and began to feel “I might be vindicated.” She emailed police working on Operation Yewtree – the investigation into Savile and others.
“I can’t be the only person, I’ll come forward and offer my help should it be needed,” she told the jury. Her cross-examination continues when the trial resumes on Monday. She is giving evidence via a video link, meaning she will not have to see the musician in person, when he attends his hearing.
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