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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"The 'innocent years', not so innocent anymore..."





I’ll be honest when I say that the recent charges brought against Rolf Harris have ruined a giant chunk of what are often considered our ‘innocent years’ for me. He was made famous for his likeable TV personality, his remarkable ability as a painter, his funny and original performances, but now etched on the brains of thousands he is nothing but a molester. Believe me when I tell you, I used to rush in from playing outside to watch Animal Hospital every week; it was a firm favourite in my household. But like so many other entertainers, Rolf Harris has fallen short and it has been revealed that he abused that adoration and trust of so many young girls, no different to myself, and exploited them for his own sexual gratification. Perhaps the most surprising of all the recent sexual abuse revelations was Rolf himself; this coupled with his firm denial of all charges and constant support from his wife and daughter, made it that more bitter to find out he was guilty of all charges.

Down to the nitty gritty so to speak, Harris was charged with five years and nine months. In reality, he will only likely serve half his sentence, due to an overwhelming number of mitigating circumstances. Four of his victims were young children, he used his fame in order to take advantage of their trust, and perhaps most chilling of all was his repeated abuse of daughter Bindi’s best friend.

This whole saga throws hundreds of questions into the mix, not just about Rolf Harris, but about all those famous who have been thrown back into the spotlight for exploiting their celebrity status for their own seedy needs. What was it that compelled them to carry out these acts, some of which were so blatant, and more often than not live on TV? In a number of these cases, it appears that this was just commonplace, and people expected it of many of those charged. I’ve read many articles in which a number of people stated that to be chosen by these men was in fact an honour; it meant you were one of the pretty girls, that you were in fact lucky. That whole concept absolutely horrifies me. Was it merely because ‘everyone was doing it’, so Rolf Harris deemed it acceptable or is there a much darker, more sinister side to him? For many, the constant denial is a total lack of remorse, so maybe really he is the worst of all the entertainers.

I think what is most disturbing about all these cases, is the fact that many are not surprised by these outcomes; it’s almost as if we have accepted that the 70’s was the decade of the perve. Which leads me to wonder, when I enter my 40’s and 50’s will I begin to see stories emerge of the great entertainers of my teens having copped a feel of young girls? Or maybe the limitless media attention out there these days is too much of a risk, coupled with the overwhelming number of laws put in place in order to combat these horrific life-ruining crimes which seem so very present in our news every week. What is clear to see is that even those most respected of TV personalities are capable of the most unimaginable crimes, and that the ‘innocent years’ are over from more than one perspective.

 A.Ticehurst
 B.A. (Hons) Criminology

To read a previous post about Rolf Harris and the sentencing decisions, click on the link to the right, or click here

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