Convicted sex offender Rolf Harris warned his daughter’s friend who he was abusing to “tread carefully” because he was powerful and had money, according to a new ITVX documentary.
Australian-born Harris was a family favourite in the UK for decades before he was convicted of 12 indecent assaults at London’s Southwark Crown Court in June 2014 – which included a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.
The victim has given permission for the impact of her abuse to be told through her psychotherapist Chip Somers in new ITV series Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight which documents the rise and fall of the TV host, entertainer and artist.
Mr Somers explains: “She told me she had been sexually abused by Rolf Harris from the age of 13, and this went on for a number of years.
“Her choice was to not say anything about it, but it caused her a lot of trauma and was instrumental in causing her to misuse alcohol as a way of anaesthetising that trauma… a momentary respite from having to carry that burden all the time.”
As her relationship with Harris became more intimate, Mr Somers says Harris was clear in his message to her: “She is also quite clearly told, ‘This is something that you cannot talk about. Do not tell anybody about this. This is our little secret. I am a powerful person, I have money, so tread carefully’.”
The psychotherapist added: “She was having to carry this incredible secret, this incredible burden, this incredible sense of guilt and disgust and hatred of what is happening to her.
“Trauma thrives in darkness and Rolf Harris made quite sure that she was shrouded in darkness.”
In the first episode of the two-part series, Australian make-up artist Ms Dent alleges Harris sexually assaulted her when she was 23 and working on a programme he appeared on in 1985.
Ms Gardner alleges she was assaulted three times in plain sight in the space of 35 minutes at the age of 16 when she was carrying Harris’s bag on the set of Star Games in Cambridge in 1978.
Ms Gardner says: “He said to me, ‘You’re irresistible’. I was 16. He was 48. He was 10 years older than my dad.”
Harris was acquitted of assaulting Ms Gardner after the jury could not reach a verdict at two trials, and Ms Dent’s allegations of assault were not tried in court because they occurred outside the UK.
These included one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.
Following his conviction, Harris was stripped of his CBE – which he received after painting the Queen’s 80th birthday portrait.
In May 2017 he was formally cleared of four unconnected historical sex offences, which he had denied.
Later the same year, one of the 12 indecent assault convictions was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight will air on ITVX from May 18.