Yesterday Rolf Harris was found guilty of 12 charges of indecent assault, dating from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 7 of those charges related to one girl who was friends with his daughter, and, following his conviction, there may further investigations as more potential victims have come forward.
For people like me who grew up in Britain in the 1980s, the revelation that Harris was guilty of these crimes comes as a shock. He was on many childrens’ TV shows in the 1980s, and later went on to present the prime time show Animal Hospital, filmed in a vets practice. Though somewhat eccentric, and often parodied, his image on screen was generally clean and safe. So I was very surprised when I learnt of his arrest last year, and very disappointed to hear of his guilty verdict.
I’m not, I must stress, disappointed in the legal system, or at his victims, who were very brave to come forward. No – I’m disappointed at Harris, for the horrific things he did in private whilst coming across in public as warm and friendly.
Over the past couple of years we have been hearing more and more about Jimmy Savile, who potentially had hundreds of victims, aged 5 to 75. Many of them were vulnerable people in hospitals. Although he did come across as a bit dodgy in my opinion, despite his charity work (and subsequent knighthood), the allegations only really became public after his death, meaning that his victims never got justice. Harris, though old, was not only alive but deemed fit to stand trial.
Harris will be sentenced on Friday and time in jail is very much on the cards. At 84, it’s entirely possible that he will live out his days behind bars. As much as it pains me to see someone I admired as a child falling from grace, at the same time I hope that Harris gets what he deserves, and that his victims will feel that justice has been done.
Update (Friday 4th July): Harris has been sentenced to almost 6 years in prison.