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Rolf Harris said victim 'invited him to touch her'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 28, 2014

By Ellen Branagh and Jennifer Cockerell

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Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has told a court how a woman who claims he indecently assaulted her appeared to "invite" him to touch her, behaving in a "flirtatious" and "coquettish" way.

The 84-year-old told Southwark Crown Court that he was flattered when the 18-year-old friend of his daughter started flirting with him, marking the start of a series of sexual encounters which left him feeling "general guilt" about their affair.

But Harris denied he indecently assaulted the girl, saying she was a willing participant in all of the intimate encounters, even instigating some.

The artist and TV star faces 12 counts of indecent assault on four alleged victims between 1968 and 1986, all of which he denies.

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Seven relate to his daughter's friend, who claims he carried out a string of assaults on her over a number of years, starting with an alleged incident on holiday when she was 13.

Giving evidence at the start of his defence case yesterday, Harris admitted he was a "touchy-feely" person but denied indecently assaulting the alleged victim in Hawaii.

Wearing a pin-striped suit and turquoise and purple tie, he admitted hugging the girl but denied it was in a sexual way.

After outlining his rise to stardom – in which he described how he invented his well-known "wobble-board" and even sang a segment of Jake The Peg – Harris lifted the lid on his affair with the alleged victim.

The star, who was supported by wife Alwen and other family members in the public gallery, initially stood while giving evidence, but later chose to sit down in the witness box.

His defence barrister, Sonia Woodley QC, questioned him about the alleged victim's claim that he indecently assaulted the girl when he brought her a cup of tea while she was staying at his home in Bray, Berkshire.

The girl has alleged she was around 15 when the incident happened, but Harris told the court he thought she was 18. The entertainer told jurors that the girl became "flirtatious", appearing to invite him into a sexual encounter.

He said: "I put the tea down on the bedside table and she grabbed my elbow and seemed to indicate that she wanted me to sit on the bed which I did.

"She slid over a little bit and then shook the duvet off her foot to reveal that her legs were bare, she had no pyjama pants on.

"And it seemed to me that she was being very flirtatious with me. As you can imagine, it was a very flattering feeling for this young lady to suddenly be showing an interest in me."

Harris said he touched the outside of the girl's leg, describing how his "heart was thumping".

"I didn't know what to do, I got up and left the room," he told the court. I left her there with the cup of tea and went out."

Describing the encounter, the 84-year-old, who denies all the claims, said: "I find it very hard to discuss this. It's highly embarrassing."

Asked why, he said: "A married man, a much younger girl, I shouldn't have been doing it."

Harris described the girl as "flirtatious and coquettish" and said there was "sexual chemistry" between them.

"It seemed to be an invitation," he said.

The case continues.

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