A Darwin woman has told a London court she’s had an aversion to people leaning in to kiss her ever since Rolf Harris grabbed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth when she was a little girl in the late 1960s.
The woman, now in her mid-50s, gave evidence in the veteran entertainer’s indecent assault trial at Southwark Crown Court on Monday.
She said when she was 11 or 12 in 1969 she stayed at a family friend’s house in Darwin because she was away from school sick.
Harris was also staying at the house.
When the girl woke up, she went downstairs in her pyjamas to the area under the house where Harris – who she’d met once before – was working with wood.
The witness told the jury the entertainer asked how old she was and said: “Good I want to be the first one to introduce you to a tongue kiss.”
The girl froze and was unable to say anything.
Harris, who was “very tall”, then approached her, rubbed his hands up her sides and enveloped her in a hug, the court heard.
“He put his tongue in my mouth and gave me a tongue kiss.
“It seemed like it lasted forever but it must have been quite quick.”
When Harris stopped, he turned to the wood he’d previously been polishing and said: “Look what I’ve been doing.”
The alleged victim on Monday said she subsequently told some girlfriends in high school that “my first tongue kiss was with Rolf Harris” but no-one believed it.
Later in life, the Australian woman told her husband when explaining why she had an aversion to people approaching her as if to lean in for a kiss.
“It makes me feel very frazzled and scared – I almost have a panic attack,” the witness said, adding the reaction was leftover from the incident with Harris.
The woman told the court she didn’t go to the police for decades because her father had instructed her to just “suck it up” along with another – unrelated – assault she’d suffered when she was 17.
However, when the UK allegations against Harris were reported in the Australian media in mid-2013, her husband spoke to the Australian Federal Police and she was then interviewed.
The woman is one of at least six so-called negative character witnesses who say Harris harassed them in Australia, New Zealand and Malta between 1969 and 1991.
He can’t be charged over the incidents because they occurred outside the UK but the prosecution says the women’s evidence adds weight to the crown’s case.
Harris is accused of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986. The 84-year-old denies all 12 charges.
The trial continues.