6 Jul 2014

Minister urges complaints against Harris

8:23 am on 6 July 2014

The Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, is encouraging anyone who's been molested by the entertainer Rolf Harris to make a criminal complaint.

Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months jail for indecent assault after being found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assaults against four girls between 1968 and 1986 but will spend only half that time behind bars.

Paula Bennett.

Paula Bennett. Photo: RNZ

Paula Bennett says she'd encourage anyone who's been molested by Harris to make a complaint, no matter how historic the abuse.

A woman who said she was assaulted by Harris in the 1980s, criticised his sentence by a British court was too lenient, but said she was most upset by his apparent lack of remorse.

Lee Howden says she believes Harris is incapable of accepting responsibility, and she may lay a complaint with police if it encourages others who have been assaulted by Harris to come forward.

The sentence has already been referred to the Attorney General's Office under the British legal system's 'unduly lenient sentence scheme'.

Lee Howden worked as a TVNZ makeup artist, and says she was sexually assaulted by Harris before an on-air interview.

She said she was shocked by the incident, which she never reported.

"I felt a hand going up my right leg, right inside of my underpants. I dropped my tools and I just went straight out into the control room. I was a bit tearful and said I'm not going near that man until he leaves."

Ms Howden said the trial bought awful memories back and was thrilled when Harris was found guilty.

Maggie Barry

Maggie Barry Photo: SUPPLIED

Sleazy creep

The National Party MP and former broadcaster Maggie Barry said that Rolf Harris groped her in a radio studio in Palmerston North during the mid-80s.

She said she found it a chilling experience and believes he felt he was entitled to touch her because of his celebrity status.

Ms Barry said when she called him a "sleazy creep" he became angry and his publicist had to intervene.

Ms Barry says she's been contacted by more than a dozen women who also say they were assaulted by Harris, some as children.