News World Majority verdicts allowed in Rolf Harris trial

Majority verdicts allowed in Rolf Harris trial

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris was found not guilty of the indecent assault of a 12-year-old girl. Photo: file
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The London jury in the Rolf Harris indecent assault trial is having trouble reaching a verdict.

After four days of deliberation the seven women and five men have been told they can return majority verdicts of 10 out of 12 if they can’t reach unanimous verdicts on the groping counts against him.

Now the jury has come back to the judge on the question of consent.

That question related to a charge involving a singer now aged in her 30s, who is one of seven women who allege the 86-year-old entertainer groped them between 1971 and 2004 when they were aged 13 to 42.

Rolf Harris trial
Court artist sketch as a London jury continues its deliberations on the 86 year old entertainer. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Judge Alistair McCreath was sent a note asking for clarification on the issue of consent in the case of the singer, who was then aged 19.

In instructing them, the judge made reference to “regular Saturday night sex”, saying consent was more than just putting up with something, but sometimes people could acquiesce reluctantly but still be giving consent.

He gave the example of a couple where one partner might argue they always had sex on a Saturday night and the other partner reluctantly agreed and said, “Oh, alright, let’s get on with it”.

Judge McCreath told the jury it was up to them to decide if the singer had consented to what she said Harris did, which was to rub her bare lower back and make lewd comments to her.

She said Harris made her feel very uncomfortable when he approached her at a band rehearsal in 2002.

The court heard during her evidence that Harris had said there was “a beautiful girl” in the rehearsal room then rubbed her bare lower back below her crop-top.

The woman told the court Harris had said to her that if a line was drawn between the dimples in a woman’s back and “the top of the bum crack” it would be in the shape of a diamond and he found that “really sexy”.

The judge reminded the jury that the woman had agreed under questioning in court she had not told Harris to back off and had “reluctantly accepted” his actions.

But she said she was shocked at what he did and had not responded “in an enthusiastic way”.

The woman said Harris was a well-known celebrity while she felt she might be not taken seriously or laughed at if she made a complaint.

Earlier the jury was asked in Southwark Crown Court if they had reached unanimous verdicts on all counts in the case but they replied no.

Judge Alistair McCreath ordered them to resume their deliberations and strive to reach unanimous verdicts.

“If you can’t then I will accept verdicts on which at least 10 of you are agreed,” he told them.

The jury did return one unanimous finding, that one complainant was 13 at the time of one alleged indecent assault, not 12.

But they are yet to deliver a verdict on that alternative charge.

– Lloyd Jones, AAP’s London correspondent

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