WELLINGTON - A New Zealand politician recalled how Rolf Harris groped her when she was a radio reporter preparing to interview the now disgraced children's entertainer in the mid-1980s.
Maggie Barry, a sitting MP, said that the incident gave her a chilling insight into the dark side of the Australian-born entertainer, who was convicted in London on Monday of a string of sex assaults against girls between 1968 and 1986. Barry said that she was in her mid-20s and working at a regional radio station when she lined up an interview with Harris, who was touring the country, expecting a light-hearted encounter in keeping with his affable public persona.
"(But) in the pre-record situation, when you're testing the microphones and all the rest of it, he suddenly started with the wandering hands and groping," she told Radio New Zealand. "When he put his hand on my leg I said 'you can stop that right now' and I stood up and said 'you're a sleazy creep'." "At that point he got a bit nasty and the publicist came in and smoothed things over."
She said that after she called out Harris over his behaviour he "began to cut up rough (became angry) and protest and called me a couple of names" before the publicist intervened and he apologised. Barry said that she never reported the incident because it was "on the absolute minor end of the scale" of the abuses committed by Harris and she had largely forgotten about it until his trial began.
But she said that it showed Harris thought he could act with impunity because of his fame and the situation could have been far more serious if he had molested someone who was younger or more vulnerable and not willing to stand up to him. "It seemed that he was pretty confident and arrogant if he thought he could try it on with someone like me," she said.
"When you look back with hindsight, seems that even 30 years ago he had been getting away with a lot." Harris, 84, is due to be sentenced in Britain later Friday "He will get the full force of the law and probably die in jail and he deserves it," Barry told commercial broadcaster RadioLive. "It doesn't matter that 30 or 40 or 50 years have gone by, it sends a really good signal to creeps like him that they can't continue to prey on the vulnerable."
Since his conviction, a dozen more women have come forward to make fresh allegations against him.