Australia Moves to Purge Memory of Sex Offender Rolf Harris

Australia Moves to Purge Memory of Sex Offender Rolf Harris

Australia moved Tuesday to purge the memory of entertainer Rolf Harris after he was convicted on 12 counts of indecently assaulting girls, in case that caused widespread revulsion both in his homeland and adopted Britain.

Australian-born Harris, 84, was found guilty of all the charges against him after a six-week trial in London, capping a spectacular fall from grace.

The TV presenter, artist and musician assaulted four girls and young women aged from seven to 19 between 1968 and 1986, including his daughter Bindi’s childhood best friend, the court found.

He will be sentenced on Friday and almost certainly faces jail.

Harris was one of Australia’s best-loved entertainers, who headed to London when he was 22 and made his name in Britain.

He shot to fame with his signature instrument, a wobble board, and songs about kangaroos and a man called Jake who had an extra leg, ultimately painting Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on her 80th birthday.

He was made a CBE in 2006 — one of the highest honours the queen can bestow — and performed at a concert marking the monarch’s diamond jubilee outside Buckingham Palace in 2012.

– ‘Heinous crimes’ –

The Australian media, which has reported blow-by-blow accounts of the trial, said it was clear he had a dark side.

The Australian broadsheet said he left Southwark Crown Court “shattered as he walked some of his last steps as a free man”.

Harris’ home town of Bassendean in Western Australia, where he was considered a hero, said it would consider at a special meeting on Thursday whether to remove his status as a freeman.

A West Australian Education Department spokeswoman told reporters that several Harris artworks would be removed from the Perth Modern School, where he studied from 1943 to 1947.

City of Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi added to Fairfax radio that the council would likely also tear up a footpath plaque in his honour.

Labelled a “sinister pervert” by the prosecution, Harris is the second person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree.

The high-profile investigation was set up in 2012 after allegations that the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific sex offender.