Entertainer Rolf Harris charged with 13 child sex offences

Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:27am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was charged with 13 child sex offences on Thursday as part of an investigation by British police into child abuse that has led to the arrest of more than a dozen aging celebrities.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Harris, 83, faced nine counts of indecent assault related to two girls aged under 16 in the 1980s, and four offences of making indecent images of a child last year.

Harris has been a family favorite in Australia and Britain for more than 50 years, hosting TV shows and producing chart hits like "Two Little Boys" and "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" while playing the didgeridoo and his own invention, the wobble board.

A keen artist, he painted Queen Elizabeth's portrait in 2005 and was honored by her for his services to entertainment and charity. He performed at her 2012 Diamond Jubilee concert.

Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said the charges against Harris were part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation sparked by revelations that the late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile was a prolific child sex abuser.

"We have determined that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest," Saunders said in a statement.

She said six offences of indecent assault related to a girl who was 15 and 16 at the time, in 1980 and 1981, and three offences of indecent assault related to a girl aged 14 in 1986.

The offences of making indecent images of a child were alleged to have been committed between March and July last year.   Continued...

Australian singer Rolf Harris performs with his wobbleboard at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 in south west England, June 25, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor