Rolf Harris 'gave creepy hugs before assault on girl, 13'
A WOMAN has told a court that veteran entertainer Rolf Harris would give her 'creepy' hugs before indecently assaulting her during a holiday in Hawaii when she was 13.
The 49-year-old woman, who was giving evidence from behind a curtain at Southwark Crown Court in London, alleged the 84-year-old touched her without warning when she had just got out of the shower and was wrapped in only a towel, during the trip in 1978.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is the first witness to give evidence in the entertainer's trial.
She is a childhood friend of Mr Harris' daughter, Bindi.
She told the jury of six women and six men: "The way he hugged you and touched you all over, it was cringey.
"The way Rolf folded himself around you, he was a big man...he enfolded you in his arms and then touched you up and down over your body. He'd go 'ooh'." She claims he groped her.
After the claimed assault, the alleged victim said: "He... pretended as if nothing had happened and said 'See you downstairs'." She told the jury that Mr Harris told her she was "lovely".
Harris, sitting in the glass-walled dock, looked down at the floor as he listened to proceedings through a hearing loop.
The woman said: "I was shocked and panicked by it because I didn't know what to do. I thought 'I don't know quite what's happened here but whatever it is, it's not good'. I just sat on the edge of the bed in a state of shock, really."
The alleged incident is not included among charges that Harris faces, because it happened abroad before such offences could be prosecuted in the UK.
But the woman is named on seven of the 12 indecent assault charges against the artist and musician, all of which he denies. She claims that Harris went on to abuse her for a number of years.
The woman told the court that on another occasion during the same holiday Mr Harris abused her by fondling her crotch as he wrapped a towel round her on the beach.
She said the star's wife and daughter were sunbathing "a few feet away" when he put his hand inside the towel, and down her bikini bottoms.
Asked why she did not tell them or shout out, she said: "I was a very shy child, excruciatingly shy really, and I just hadn't got the guts to shout out and I thought, well, if you shout out it will cause mayhem anyway. It was Bindi's dad and Alwen's husband."