Rolf Harris faces groping trial in London


(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, file)

The marked similarity of three women's complaints that Rolf Harris quickly groped them at public events when they were teenagers points to their accusations being true, a London jury has heard.

The 87-year-old entertainer on Monday appeared by video link for the start of his two-week trial at Southwark Crown Court on indecent assault charges.

Harris, wearing a grey suit and dark tie, sat quietly listening as prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Rees QC outlined the case against him before Judge Deborah Taylor and a jury of seven women and five men.

He faces four charges of groping teenage girls at public events in England in 1971, 1978 and 1983, with three complainants involved.

Harris has been allowed to appear by video-link due to his age and state of health.

Rees said the prosecution case was that Harris, "for his own gratification, deliberately groped these young females in a sexual way without their consent".

He said the three women's complaints were very similar in that they alleged Harris quickly groped them at public events with many people nearby.

Rees said if the jurors concluded the women's complaints were made independently of each other "the similarity of them made it more likely they were true" and were not lies made up in hopes of monetary gain.

He said "it offends common sense" that the women would independently come up with such similar complaints if they were not true.

The first indecent assault count against Harris is that he put his hand up the skirt of a 14-year-old girl and touched her on the vagina through her tights as she sought his autograph at a youth music festival in London in July 1971.

The complainant, now in her late 50s, told the court on Monday that being touched there made her feel "terrible" and she had run to her father to say Harris had "put his hand in a private place".

She said that prompted her father to go and have words with Harris.

The woman did not make an official complaint until July 2014 but told the court she had informed several people of Harris' actions over the intervening years.

"I didn't want to see him on the television, I'd always turn the television off."

Larry Westland, the organiser of the music festival, told the court that Harris had been chosen as a compere and award giver at the event because he was very popular with young people.

"He was what we now call a superstar".

Mr Westland said he recalled no reports of Harris doing anything untoward.

Two of the other indecent assault charges relate to allegations Harris groped the breast of a 16-year-old girl and ran his hand up between her thighs in the back of a taxi at a celebrity sports event in Cambridge in 1978.

The other charge is that he groped the breast of a 13-year-old girl at the BBC Television Centre in London in 1983 and said to her, "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?"

The trial continues.

© AAP 2017