London: Rolf Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of sexual assault against four girls, one aged as young as seven.
He appeared on Tuesday at Southwark Crown Court before Mr Justice Sweeney, where details of the charges against him were heard for the first time.
Harris, 83, wore a blue suit and red patterned tie. He stood before the court behind a glass screen and in a firm voice said 'not guilty' when each of the charges was read out.
The alleged assaults took place between 1968 and 1986. One girl was aged 7 or 8, the others 14, 15 and 19.
The charges are:
- Six charges of indecent assault against a 15 year-old girl, including four counts of digital penetration of her vagina and two of performing oral sex on her, between April 1980 and April 1981.
- One more charge of indecent assault against the same person in 1984, when she was 19, involving touching her breasts and vagina.
- Three charges of indecent assault against a 14 year-old girl in May 1986, involving touching her upper leg and vagina, touching her breasts, and digital penetration of her vagina.
- One charge of indecent assault against a 7 or 8 year-old girl in 1968, involving touching her vagina.
- One charge of indecent assault against a 14 year-old girl in 1975, involving rubbing her buttocks.
Harris has not yet been arraigned (asked to plead) on four further counts of obtaining indecent images.
Minutes before the hearing, Harris appeared in good health and good spirits, humming a tune to himself as he pushed his wife Alwen's wheelchair into the court.
He was accompanied by an eight-strong entourage of family and friends, including Alwen and his daughter Bindi, plus a security detail of men in grey suits.
Inside the court his voice was steady but his hands occasionally shook slightly. At one point he held onto the glass surrounding the dock for support.
Harris remains on bail on condition he does not contact witnesses and lives at home in Berkshire.
The judge warned him that he must attend the trial – which is set for April 30 – and other interim hearings.
Asked if he understood, Harris responded “yes” and when told he could sit down, said simply “thank-you”.
In August, Harris was charged with nine counts of indecent assault.
Last month, prosecutors said they had added another three assault counts, two relating to two new complainants.
The allegations were investigated as part of Operation Yewtree, launched after the Jimmy Savile scandal, however they are not linked to Savile.
The story Rolf Harris pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.