Disgraced entertainer and convicted paedophile Rolf Harris has died, aged 93.
The Australian-born Animal Hospital television presenter and entertainer first rose to fame throughout the 1960s, although was later found guilty of using his fame to assault and groom young women, and faced jail time in 2014.
His death was confirmed by a registrar at the town hall in Maidenhead, where he was residing. According to reports, he had been seriously ill with neck cancer, and receiving care due to his health complications.
In a statement, leading publicist Mark Borkowski discussed the legacy Harris will leave behind. “When the accusations sank in you began to feel cheated, that all those emotions you’ve had for an icon were false,” he said (via Sky News).
“He had a darker side to him that overshadowed all the fun and games he had broadcast for decades,” he continued. “People will remember him as an entertainer, unique, [who] lived in the heart of the nation and was good at reinventing himself – but he will be remembered for his crimes.”
Harris was one of the 12 celebrities arrested during Operation Yewtree — one of the numerous police investigations into historical sex abuse allegations, made against-high profile names in the entertainment industry. This investigation also included the infamous presenter Jimmy Savile, who was exposed as a prolific sex offender following his death in 2011.
Arriving in court following the numerous accusations made against him, Harris was described by the prosecutor in the trial as having a “Jekyll & Hyde” type personality, with a hidden dark side working alongside his enthusiastic television persona.
Harris denied all allegations raised against him but was convicted after a high-profile trial — found guilty of assaulting four girls and producing child images. He was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison, as the judge declared that he had used his celebrity status to get away with the crimes.
In 2015, the disgraced entertainer was stripped of his CBE, MBE, OBE, honorary university doctorates and BAFTA fellowship. His honours in Australia were also revoked.
Two years later, he faced a second trial while he was still in prison, over allegations of indecent assault on three teenage girls. He continuously denied all allegations raised against him, and was later found not guilty as the jury was unable to reach an agreement.
Harris was released from prison in 2017bafter serving three years of his five-year sentence and one of his convictions was overturned following an appeal.
Up until his passing, he spent the remainder of his life with his longtime partner Alwen, residing in a Thames riverside home in Berkshire.