BBC Veteran Rolf Harris Charged With Sex Offenses
The Australian, a stalwart of British TV, is the latest high-profile name to be charged as part of the fallout from the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.
LONDON – Australia-born Rolf Harris, a fixture of British TV for more than 40 years, was on Thursday charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of taking indecent images of children.
The 83-year-old entertainer and artist was first arrested in March by officers investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse.
The former BBC stalwart had been brought in by police as part of Operation Yewtree, set up following the death of Jimmy Savile in 2011, when hundreds of sex abuse allegations were made against the former Top of the Pops host.
Six of the assault offenses relate to the indecent assault of a girl aged 15-16 between 1980 and 1981, and three relate to a girl aged 14 in 1986. The indecent images of children were allegedly taken last year.
Harris will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Sept. 23.
Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, said: "Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence, and it is in the public interest, for Mr. Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child.
"The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending."
Operation Yewtree has three strands -- one is looking specifically at the actions of Savile, while the second strand concerns allegations against "Savile and others".
Mr. Harris was arrested as part of the third strand, which relates to alleged complaints against other people unconnected to the Savile investigation -- who the police term "others".
Harris is as famous, perhaps more so, than Savile in the U.K. and was a regular face across British television since his arrival from Australia in 1952.
In 2001, Harris was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to entertainment, charity and the community, and in June of 2012, he appeared at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace.
Also in June of 2012, he was awarded one of Australia's highest honors when he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia on the Queen's birthday list.