Following Rolf Harris being found guilty earlier this week (details in our blog) the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, today sentenced the 84-year-old entertainer to a total of five years and nine months in prison on 12 counts of indecent assault. Some of the sentences are to be served consecutively and others concurrently.
Before the courtroom today, Sweeney said to Harris: “You showed no remorse. You took advantage of the trust placed in you through celebrity status … You clearly got a thrill from committing offences while others were nearby. Your reputation lies in ruins [and] you have nobody to blame but yourself.”
Following the verdict at Southwark crown court in London on Monday a number of other claims were made to the police and to the NSPCC meaning Harris could potentially face new charges. The latter said it had received 28 calls involving 13 potential new victims during the trial, and had passed the information to police.
The new information would be assessed, said Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecution. “We know there has been more reporting, what we don’t know yet is whether or not more charges will follow. We will work with the police and look at any cases that they send to us to see whether there is enough evidence to bring more charges.”
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said the charity had experienced “an explosion of calls” from people concerned about sexual abuse. He said that the charity was all the more shocked given it advised Harris in the mid-1980s about an education video the entertainer made about child abuse, called Kids Can Say No.
While the court heard from 10 victims of Harris, including a girl who was about eight when he groped her after signing an autograph for her, and his daughter Bindi’s best friend, whom he groomed from 13, the true number is likely to run into the dozens. As well as the new claims to police and the NSPCC, the evidence of seven more complainants was not put before the jury for legal reasons, while a series of other women made allegations to Australian media during the trial.
The jury was not told that seven more complainants alleged Harris groped or assaulted them, claims covering almost 30 years and involving women and girls aged from 14 upwards. These accounts were given in pretrial hearings, but were not pursued in the main trial for legal reasons. Additionally, new complainants came forward in Australia during the trial, among them a radio host and her male co-presenter.