Rolf Harris in a public service video about sex abuse.
On Monday, a British celebrity caught in that sting learned he will likely go to jail for crimes against children.
Rolf Harris, 84, was convicted of “indecent assault” of four girls between 1968 and 1986, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported. One victim may have been as young as seven, according to the Australian.
Harris came to Britain from Australia in 1952. In his six-decade career, he hosted children’s shows — including “Rolf Harris Cartoon Time” — and was named TV personality of the year by the BBC. His portrait of Queen Elizabeth hung in Buckingham Palace.
But his nickname in his native country referenced his too-familiar hands: “The Octopus.”
Among other charges: Harris allegedly groped a child asking for an autograph and abused a friend of his daughter’s for 16 years.
Harris’s conviction was compared to Savile’s. The Independent:
Like his former BBC colleague Savile, he operated in plain sight before he was unmasked as a repeat child abuser who used his power to exploit the vulnerable. He was a “sinister pervert who had a demon lurking beneath the charming exterior,” his trial heard.
And like Savile’s crimes — the extent of which were not known until his death — details about Harris’s misdeeds were slow too emerge. Though questioned in 2012, he was not named in the British press until 2013.
One journalist blamed this delay on the Leveson Inquiry — a government investigation of the British press set up in 2011 after the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph:
Rolf Harris benefited from the so-called “chilling effect” on media reporting of the Leveson Inquiry, by enjoying five months of anonymity while under suspicion of sexual abuse.
The 84-year-old continued his career after first being questioned and even hosted “An Evening With Rolf Harris” at the Royal Festival hall in London, an event advertised as “the perfect treat for all the family.”
His “Rolf’s Animal Clinic” programme was also given a Christmas special while he was under suspicion. Meanwhile in Nottingham a children’s play was staged inspired by his songs and entitled “Two little Boys.”
“I feel gutted and dismayed but it’s very important that we do everything we humanly can to protect vulnerable young people,” Abbott told ABC.
Rolf will be sentenced Friday. He faces up to 24 years in prison.