News World Harris ‘fondled’ Aussie woman

Harris ‘fondled’ Aussie woman

Rolf Harris
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An Australian woman says she stopped eating and became a “shell” of her former self after Rolf Harris indecently assaulted her at a London pub in the mid-1980s when she was a teenager.

Tonya Lee, who is now 43, is one of four main complainants in Harris’s child sex trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The NSW woman, who in mid-2013 was paid for TV and print interviews in Australia, has waived her right to anonymity in the UK.

She admitted in court she had initially lied to police about selling her story to Woman’s Day and A Current Affair in mid-2013. .

She said it was organised by her “dominating” ex-boyfriend Fian McDaid and celebrity PR agent Max Markson, who she described as a “charlatan”.

“The money is a huge regret, a huge mistake,” Ms Lee told Southwark Crown Court.

“I fully take responsibility for that. It brought me no joy.”

Ms Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she now realised the paid interviews put at risk her chance to seek justice in court.

Giving evidence from behind a curtain yesterday, Ms Lee described how she was initially “really excited” to tour Britain in 1986 with her youth theatre group.

But things turned sour on day one, the witness said.

The theatre group’s director had arranged for Harris to meet them at Heathrow airport and later the artist and singer joined the 12-strong troupe for dinner at a pub.

Harris praised Ms Lee’s singing voice after an impromptu performance then invited her to sit on his lap and tell him about herself.

The then 15-year-old sat astride him as instructed and the entertainer started “moving back and forth” rubbing his crotch against her, Ms Lee said on Tuesday.

He placed his hand on her thigh and it started going “higher and higher”.

Ms Lee panicked but Harris carried on chatting to her and others as if nothing was happening.

The witness on Tuesday said the famous celebrity then touched her crotch over her tights.

“I felt his fingers were playing with me or fondling me,” she said.

The teenager fled to the bathroom in shock but when she emerged Harris was in the corridor.

He allegedly approached her and said he wanted to talk some more.

Harris then gave Ms Lee – who was feeling intimidated and claustrophobic – a “bear hug”, which wedged her between the wall and a large pot plant.

The entertainer put his hand down her top into her bra and touched her breast, the witness said.

“He played with it, fondled it and squeezed it.

“I was petrified. I probably should have screamed.”

Harris subsequently put his hand “straight into my skirt, tights, and undies”, Ms Lee told the jury, adding it was one swift movement.

After he finished she burst into tears and escaped back into the toilet.

Ms Lee said she didn’t feel she could tell the theatre group’s director because she was friends with Harris.

The teenager was also afraid other members of the group would hate her if she ruined the six-week trip before it had really started.

Ms Lee on Tuesday said afterwards she “felt like a shell” and stopped eating, losing up to six kilograms.

The now 43-year-old said perhaps she was punishing herself.

She thought she may have been to blame because although she was one of the youngest on the trip her breasts had developed.

The witness told the court she thought if she was really skinny perhaps no-one would touch her.

On returning home to Australia the teenager stopped attending the theatre group and would often find herself lying in bed “struggling to function”.

“I felt like I didn’t have a place in the world,” Ms Lee told the court.

Harris is accused of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986. He denies all 12 charges.