Convicted sex offender Rolf Harris warned his daughter’s friend who he was abusing to "tread carefully" because he was powerful and wealthy, according to a new ITVX documentary - which premiered on 18 May.
On Tuesday (23 May), Maidenhead Town Hall confirmed the disgraced entertainer had died. Harris has reportedly been declining in health since last October, suffering from neck cancer and receiving round the clock car. A friend told the Daily Mail his health has taken a turn for the worse - with a private ambulance photographed outside his Thameside mansion on 11 May.
Before being convicted of 12 indecent assaults at London’s Southwark Crown Court in June 2014 - including a string of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years - Australian-born Harris had been a family favourite in the UK for decades.
The new ITV documentary series Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight chronicles the rise and fall of the TV host, entertainer and artist - as one of his victims gave permission for the effects of her abuse to be discussed through her psychotherapist, Chip Somers.
What is Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight?
Harris was prominent in the entertainment industry for 60 years, and was known for his charismatic and affable persona as well as his musical abilities. In 2005, Harris painted a picture of the late Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her 80th birthday - and was awarded a CBE for his efforts.
But in 2014, he was convicted on multiple charges of indecent assault, spanning several decades. The charges primarily involved sexual misconduct against minors and young women. The victims were individuals who had encountered Harris during his career as an entertainer.
They included an eight-year-old autograph seeker, as well as two young girls and a string of abuse against his daughter's friend over a 16-year period.
The two-part documentary heard how that woman sought assistance from Somers in the late 1990s due to an alcohol problem, but it “became apparent that there was a huge secret that she was holding on to”.
Somers explained: “She told me she had been sexually abused by Rolf Harris from the age of 13, and this went on for a number of years.
“Her choice was to not say anything about it, but it caused her a lot of trauma and was instrumental in causing her to misuse alcohol as a way of anaesthetising that trauma… a momentary respite from having to carry that burden all the time.”
Suzi Dent and Karen Gardner, two alleged victims who waived their right to anonymity, are also featured on the programme. In the first episode of the two-part series, Australian makeup artist Dent alleges that Harris sexually assaulted her in 1985, when she was 23 and working on a show he appeared on.
Gardner alleges that while she was carrying Harris’ bag on the Cambridge set of Star Games in 1978, she was assaulted three times in plain view over the course of 35 minutes. At the time, she was 16 years old.
After the jury could not reach a verdict at two trials, Harris was acquitted of assaulting Gardner. Dent’s allegations of assault were not tried in court because they took place outside of the UK.
What happened to Harris?
Harris was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for his offences, though he was freed from prison in May 2017 after completing three years of his sentence.
His conviction and the subsequent revelations had a significant impact on his career and public image, and Harris never spoke publicly after his release.
The case against Rolf Harris contributed to wider discussions about sexual abuse and misconduct, particularly within the entertainment industry, and highlighted the importance of addressing such issues and supporting the victims.
In 2022, it was reported that the disgraced entertainer and convicted paedophile was “gravely ill” and requiring 24-hour care as he fights neck cancer. According to The Daily Telegraph, the 93-year-old can no longer talk or eat while living with his wife in Berkshire - he now must be fed through a tube.
On 23 May, 2023, it was announced that he had died.
When can I watch Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight?
Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight is available to stream on ITVX.