Harris victims describe impact of abuse

Rolf Harris’s victims have revealed how being sexually assaulted as young girls made it difficult to form relationships later in life.


In harrowing victim impact statements, the four women also made clear that the abuse was much harder to deal with because Harris was so loved by the public.

The main victim in the case, a childhood friend of the entertainer’s daughter Bindi, was abused from the age of 13 into her late 20s.

“The attacks made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting,” the woman, now 49, said in a victim impact statement.

“The whole sordid saga has traumatised me.”

Bindi’s childhood friend still has panic attacks.

She was so petrified of Harris she’d stutter and stammer. Her face muscles would twitch involuntarily.

“He used and abused me to such a degree it made me feel worthless,” the victim said.

She started drinking at the age of 14 to cope with the ongoing abuse and only quit in 2000 after years of counselling.

Justice Nigel Sweeney – when sentencing Harris to five years and nine months’ jail on Friday – praised the victim’s “brave recovery from alcoholism”, which led to her reporting Harris in late 2012.

The victim said as a young girl she’d wanted to have a career, settle down and have a family.

“However, as a direct result of his actions this has never materialised.

“I have never had a meaningful relationship whilst sober. I have also never been able to hold down a job.”

The 49-year-old said the knowledge of what the former star had done haunted her and “his popularity with the British public made it harder for me to deal with”.

“Every time I saw him on TV he would grate on me,” she said.

“His animal shows were the worst, he never showed any interest or kindness to my dogs.”

Now her nightmare is finally over: “I can now live my life with no fear and anxiety and can concentrate on building my life.”

Australian woman Tonya Lee said being assaulted by Harris when she was 15 was “a turning point” in her life that she never recovered from.

“In the time since I had developed eating disorders, become an alcoholic, been in numerous bad and detrimental relationships and had my three children removed from my care,” Ms Lee said in her impact statement presented to Southwark Crown Court.

“What Mr Harris took from me was my very essence. I believe that it was for Mr Harris a forgettable moment, but it was something for me that I have never moved on from and will never forget.”

The 43-year-old said she wanted Harris to understand the pain and destruction he’d caused.

A third victim was just seven or eight when groped by Harris in the late 1960s. She’d asked for his autograph.

“In the space of a few minutes my childhood innocence was gone,” the now 52-year-old said in her statement.

“I became an angry child unable to express myself and unable to trust men.

“I took this with me into my teens and did not like to be touched. It made having normal relationships difficult.”

The final victim, who was assaulted in Cambridge in 1978 when Harris participated in a celebrity sporting challenge, said he took advantage of her and made her feel ashamed.

She said in her impact statement: “He treated me like a toy that he had played with for his own pleasure.”

In a TV interview she said the fact Harris was an icon meant people were less likely to believe he abused young girls.

“It was like rubbing your face in it,” the 52-year-old told ITV News.

“That’s what makes it seem even crueller and sicker. He betrayed this image, got involved with kids charities, yet was perpetrating these crimes.”

Harris will likely serve less than three years of his sentence.

The UK’s top law officer has been asked to asses the sentence on the basis it’s “unduly lenient”.