Children's host Rolf Harris charged in British sex inquiry

Rolf Harris performs on stage during the final day of the Womad Festival on July 25, 2010 in Wiltshire, England.

Story highlights

  • Rolf Harris faces 13 counts, some of which date to 1980
  • He hosted children's and painting shows in Australia and Britain
  • Charges were part of investigation into another entertainer, Jimmy Savile

British authorities have charged a veteran children's television host with more than a dozen counts of child abuse stemming from an ongoing investigation into another TV personality.

Australian-born Rolf Harris was charged with nine counts of indecent assault dating to 1980, the Crown Prosecution Service announced Thursday. Another four counts accuse Harris of making indecent images of children in 2012, when he was first questioned by police.

Harris, now 83, hosted children's shows and a painting program on Australian and British networks and painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for the monarch's 80th birthday in 2005. He was arrested as part of the long-running Operation Yewtree, the investigation set up after a documentary leveled allegations of sexual abuse against now-deceased "Top of the Pops" and "Jim'll Fix It" host Jimmy Savile.

"Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr. Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child," Alison Saunders, chief prosecutor for London, said in a statement announcing the charges. "The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending."

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Harris had been released on bail after his initial arrest in March. He's scheduled to appear in court on the charges September 23, prosecutors said.

Operation Yewtree was launched after an ITV documentary in October led to a flood of allegations against Savile, who had been seen as an eccentric but charismatic man who raised millions of pounds for charity. The claims stretched from 1955 to 2009.

Savile died in 2011 at age 84.