4 July 2014

Rolf Harris jailed for five years and 9 months.....

To say that I am shocked at this light sentence, does not quite express what I want to say.

As a coffee shop owner, I mix with lots of different people and hear many different stories. In fact, from the time I had a breakdown and was in the mental health unit and then in respite care and from the time I was a performer covering everything from acting, voice-overs, TV appearance, singing on records and radio jingles to dancing for mainly men, in table dancing clubs, I have heard stories of sexual abuse and lives ruined by the acts of a predatory male, or female on an innocent child.

I feel so angry that the sentence is so small for Rolf Harris, he has been convicted of ruining children's lives and there seems to be a grey area about him accessing some child porn, 'by mistake' but several times and his solicitors have apparently checked that the Ukraine website that Rolf Harris was viewing had the age identification documents of each model, proving that they were over the required age! Really?

Many, many times over the pain that a child feels after being sexually abused has been expressed to me, can you imagine a pain so huge, an unexplained dirty feeling, a feeling of disgust with yourself, without wondering why, these intense feelings can lead to self-harm, or even a feeling of wanting to die, to end the pain that you don't understand and cannot find the words to explain to others. People that manage to get through the other side of sexual abuse, often refer to themselves as survivors, which is in fact an extremely appropriate word, considering being sexually abused heightens the risk of someone developing suicidal feelings.

When a child, or an adult speaks out about sexual abuse, there is always, always, always the risk that they will not be believed by the people around them, mainly because abusers seem apt at putting themselves in trustworthy positions. Imagine gathering the courage to speak out about someone that is seemingly a famous, friendly, trust-worthy children's entertainer, who would believe you?

Child abusers seem to me to be extremely devious and place themselves in close proximity to children in general, or abuse children that they are already close to such as family members or friends of their children. It has taken a long time for society to listen to survivors of sexual abuse, to hear what they are saying and to take them seriously. Now, we need the law and the judges to respond appropriately. As someone that has listened to many experiences of child abuse, who has seen the devastation of individuals and their family and friends because of it and as someone that has known people that have self-harmed as a direct result of the abuse and people that have killed themselves because of it, I believe the sentence that has been given to Rolf Harris is absolutely appalling and does not at all match the seriousness of the crimes he has committed. 

These are the convictions and the sentences, however you will notice that because some of the sentences will be served at the same time, the total will only be 5 years and 9 months, instead of the grand total which would be over a decade.

It is possible that Rolf Harris will only serve half the sentence of 5 years and 9 months and then spend the rest of the time in the community.

  • Count 1: Assaulting an autograph-hunter, who was aged seven or eight, in the late 1960s - Nine months
  • Count 2: Assaulting a teenage waitress in the 1970s - Six months
  • Count 3: Assaulting a childhood friend of Harris's daughter between the ages of 13 and 19 - 15 months
  • Count 4: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 5: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 6: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 7: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 8: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 9: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 10: Assaulting Australian woman Tonya Lee, who was 15, in 1986 - Nine months
  • Count 11: Same victim as count 10 - Nine months
  • Count 12: Same victim as count 10 - 12 months
(Above sentences quoted from the BBC website)

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