LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor told a British court Friday that veteran TV and music entertainer Rolf Harris got away with brazen sexual assaults on young girls because his fame made him untouchable.
The 84-year-old celebrity is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault on four victims aged 19 or under between 1968 and 1986. Harris denies the charges.
Opening the case against Harris at London's Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor Sasha Wass said the victims "were overawed at meeting Rolf Harris. Mr. Harris was too famous, too powerful and his reputation made him untouchable."
Wass said Harris had "a good, talented and kind side." But she said his personality had another side "which gave him the confidence to molest girls knowing that they could not object and, even if they did, nobody would believe them."
The Australian-born Harris has been a British broadcasting stalwart for decades, often hosting shows aimed at children. He has also had hits with songs "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" and "Two Little Boys" and painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to mark her 80th birthday.
He is one of several veteran entertainers to face sex charges since TV host Jimmy Savile was exposed as a serial child molester after his death in 2011.
As Harris listened, Wass said the jury would hear from eight alleged victims — four on the indictment and four supporting witnesses — who would describe "instances where Mr. Harris touched children and women alike in quite brazen circumstances."
She said they would include one victim — the subject of seven of the 12 allegations — whom Harris "groomed like a pet" until she consented to sexual relations.
The prosecutor said Harris admits having a consensual affair with the woman but does not agree she was underage.
"Rather like when President Clinton admitted that he had smoked cannabis but said that he didn't inhale," she commented.