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Entertainer Rolf Harris found guilty of abusing women, girls as young as 7

By Peter Wilkinson, CNN
updated 12:59 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Veteran Australian artist and entertainer Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in central London on Friday.
Veteran Australian artist and entertainer Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in central London on Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rolf Harris is found guilty in a London court of 12 charges of sexual abuse
  • 84-year-old musician and artist painted portrait of Queen for monarch's 80th birthday in 2006
  • Offenses Harris committed against four women took place as far back as 1970
  • Harris charged under Operation Yewtree investigating abuse allegations by public figures

London (CNN) -- Australian children's entertainer Rolf Harris, 84, was found guilty Monday in a London court of 12 charges of sexually abusing women and girls as young as 7 years old.

The musician and artist, who painted a portrait of the Queen for the monarch's 80th birthday in 2006, had been charged under Operation Yewtree, which is investigating allegations of decades of abuse by public figures, including the late TV entertainer Jimmy Savile.

The offenses that Harris committed against four women took place as far back as 1970. He was released on bail until Friday, when he will be sentenced; the judge, Justice Sweeney, warned him he could face jail, the Press Association reported.

Dozens more women who said they had been abused by the entertainer, including several in Australia, alerted police during the trial, PA added.

Speaking outside Southwark Crown Court after the verdict, Detective Mick Orchard told reporters: "Rolf Harris has habitually denied any wrongdoing, forcing his victims to recount their ordeal in public.

"He committed many offenses in plain sight of people as he thought his celebrity status placed him above the law. I want to thank the women who came forward for their bravery. I hope today's guilty verdict will give them closure and help them to begin to move on with their lives.

"Today's case and verdict once again shows that we will always listen to, and investigate allegations regardless of the time frame or those involved."

Harris was once one of Britain's best-loved children's entertainers. He had a string of hits in the 1960s, including "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," "Jake the Peg" and "Two Little Boys." He had a decades-long television career at the BBC and received several honors, including the Order of the British Empire.

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