Show of support: Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court with his daughter Bindi on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Bindi Harris, daughter of Rolf, was so upset by her father’s sexual relationship with her friend that she beat her head against a wall and smashed the paintings he had given her, a court has heard.
Rolf Harris took his seat in the witness stand for a third day of evidence on Thursday, and his second of cross-examination by prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC.
Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In a croaky, tired voice Harris said he remembered a phone call to Bindi around 1997, when he was overseas, after, Ms Wass said, Bindi had been told by her friend that Harris had sexually assaulted her when she was 13.
“She was so upset she smashed up some paintings,” Mr Harris said.
Ms Wass said “she accused you over the phone of sexually molesting [the complainant]”.
“Yes,” Harris said.
“She smashed paintings … she was banging her head against a wall.”
Mr Harris said he had not heard that she did that. He could not remember exact details of the conversation.
Ms Wass said there was a “common theme” to the evidence of the complainants in the case, as well as the evidence of other character witnesses from the UK, Australia and New Zealand who claimed Harris groped or assaulted them.
“You met them in your public role of Rolf Harris the entertainer,” Ms Wass said. “On each occasion the sexual assault started with a friendly or innocent gesture.
“In each case the victims were in the position of being unable to move or unable to protest. There were other people present or nearby. And you behaved after the assault as if nothing had happened.”
Mr Harris said he could not explain the similarity between the stories, saying it was “coincidence”, as he was sure the assaults never happened. He had “no idea” why they would be lying, he said.
Ms Wass said there were similarities between the evidence about Harris’s sexual “routine” when he allegedly assaulted two of the complainants in the case – the main complainant, and Australian woman Tonya Lee who said Harris assaulted her in a London pub while she was on a youth theatre tour of the UK.
“I don’t think so,” Harris said. “I find it very hard to believe, any of it.”
He said he assumed Ms Lee had fabricated her story to sell it to the media. But he conceded that engaging a PR agent did not mean that she was lying.
He said he had no recollection of Ms Lee at all, though he remembered the pub. He said it was unlikely he would have singled her out for praise, because he didn’t do that as a rule because it made other children feel bad.
And he said it would have been “physically impossible” for her to sit on his lap in the position Ms Lee had claimed.
“I never met the girl,” he said. “[The assaults] didn’t happen.”
Earlier a witness had said she was 11 or 12 staying at a house in Darwin where Harris was visiting, and he said to her “come here I want to be the first one to give you a tongue kiss”.
“I never met the girl … I would never say that, I hate that expression anyway,” Harris said. “She says I thrust my tongue down her throat, I don’t think that’s physically possible if she didn’t want you to.”
Ms Wass noted that Harris had several times argued that things were physically impossible.
He had also said it was “physically impossible” for him to sign an autograph with a ball-point pen without something to lean on, as one complainant had described.
Ms Wass said, if the witnesses were lying, they were all saying similar lies.
“It would seem to be the case,” Harris said.
The morning’s evidence was interrupted by legal argument several times, as defence counsel Sonia Woodley, QC, objected to Ms Wass’s questioning of her client.
Harris' evidence was suspended for legal argument to take place.
However, in the afternoon the court heard from a primary school friend of Bindi Harris, Lonneke Broadribb.
Ms Broadribb said she had often visited the Harris home and had never felt uncomfortable or seen Harris do anything inapprpriate.
He was "always very friendly", she said, and greeted people "with a big cuddle or a kiss" which she said was affectionate, not sexual.
Harris is expected to return to the witness stand for a fourth day's evidence on Friday.