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  • 21.09.2018

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Harris has child sex conviction overturned
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21.09.2018

Harris has child sex conviction overturned

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DISGRACED former children’s entertainer Rolf Harris has lost his bid to clear his name, with a court in London refusing to overturn his convictions for indecently assaulting children.
The Court of Appeal rejected Harris’s bid to throw out 11 of 12 convictions for indecently assaulting three girls aged up to 19 years old at the time.
But the Court quashed one conviction against Harris over allegations that he touched a girl aged seven or eight between her legs after she sought an autograph from him in the late 1960s.
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In a ruling by three judges, the court found that conviction was unsafe after fresh evidence cast doubt on whether Harris was at the community centre in Portsmouth where the assault was alleged to have occurred.
Prosecutors agreed not to seek a retrial on this conviction and the judges said this was in the public interest.
But the court rejected Harris’ bid to appeal the 11 other charges.
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Harris did not attend the court to hear the decision. His loyal niece Jenny watched from the public dock.
The now 87-year-old former entertainer funded a years-long private investigation, using his own investigators and private detectives, to try to get the guilty verdicts overturned.
Harris had argued that new evidence had emerged which cast doubt on the convictions relating to two of the victims. He further argued that this therefore made all of the convictions against him unsafe and he had been trying to get them quashed.
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A jury had convicted him of indecently assaulting the girls after a lengthy trial in London in 2014, and he served half of a five-year, nine-month jail term before being paroled in March.
Harris has been mired in sexual abuse allegations since 2012 when news first leaked that he was being investigated by Operation Yewtree, the police inquiry launched as a result of the scandal surrounding pedophile BBC presenter, the late Jimmy Savile.
Harris always denied the allegations, but his credibility in the first trial took a hit when he admitted embarking on a sexual relationship with a young girl who was a friend of his daughter Bindi.
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Harris said sexual contact between them had started when she was about 19 years of age, but the girl said it had started when she was 13.
The jury believed her version of events and convicted him. He was also convicted of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old waitress and a 15-year-old aspiring actress. The crimes occurred over an almost 20-year period up to the late 1980s.
A second trial early this year, where he was accused of assaulting an additional seven women and girls, ended in failure for the prosecution, when the jury either found him not guilty, or failed to reach a verdict.
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A re-trial several months later on some of the charges also ended with not guilty verdicts recorded.
Harris again vehemently denied the allegations and did not give evidence in his own defence, appearing by video-link from Stafford Prison for the first trial.
Australian-born Harris, who now lives at Bray in Berkshire, west of London, was a hugely successful entertainer through the 1950-1980s, with pop music hits, including the chart-topping Two Little Boys in 1969.
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He hosted radio and TV programs in the UK, was an accomplished painter who was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen, and used his wobble-board instrument and didgeridoo as part of his music.
His appeal was wholesome, folksy, and he was a big hit with children and adults alike, in a career that spanned more than 50 years.
He suffered a massive fall from grace after being convicted as a child sex offender, losing his British and Australian honours, being scrubbed from advertising campaigns and facing verbal abuse whenever he went out in public.
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