Rolf Harris, the feted Australian-born, British-based entertainer, will face court next month to answer numerous charges relating to sexual abuse with youths.
British police have charged the 83-year-old with nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child. Most of the charges carry maximum sentences of five years, while some carry a maximum of 10.
Harris, who sang such memorable songs as “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” was initially interviewed by officers from “Operation Yewtree,” set up to investigate the Jimmy Saville sex scandal. He was questioned last November, arrested in March, and is set to appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Sept. 23.
On Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service, said it had authorized police to lay the charges against the veteran entertainer after reviewing the “sufficient evidence” that had been gathered.
The sordid claims have been rumbling on the social networks for months now, but news of the legal escalation will be a shock to Harris’ many fans around the world. Until now, he’s had a squeaky-clean reputation. The Guinness World Records book of British Hit Singles described him as a “lovable Australian musician, artist and presenter.”
Harris is a household name in the country of his birth, and in the country that he’s called home for more than 40 years.
Originally from Perth, in Western Australia, Harris rose to fame as a broadcaster, painter and singing star. He enjoyed a string of U.K. chart hits including “Two Little Boys” (Columbia), which has the distinction of being the very last No. 1 in Britain in the 1960s. “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” reached No. 9 in Britain back in 1960, and he had a No. 3 hit with “Sun Arise” in 1962. He enjoyed another U.K. top 10 in 1993, when his cover of “Stairway to Heaven,” a spin-off from the Australian TV show “Money or the Gun,” reached No. 7.
Harris also has an impressive collection of British titles. He’s an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and in 2006 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Earlier this year, Harris was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), in recognition for his distinguished service to the performing and visual arts, to charitable organisations and to international relations through the promotion of Australian culture.
In 2005, Harris was commissioned to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for her 80th birthday.
Neither Harris nor any of his representatives have issued any comment on the latest allegations.