4 July 2014:
The Survivors Trust welcomes the conviction and sentencing of Rolf Harris for 12 indecent assaults against four girls. However, the sentence given of just 5 years and 9 months of which he will only serve half to be released on license for the remainder of his sentence, in no way reflects the ongoing nature of the suffering that his victims have experienced.
Without concurrent sentences, Harris would be facing 11 years and 9 months – a sentence that we feel better reflects the lifelong suffering his victims have felt and are still battling. We note that sentencing has been made in accordance to laws in existence at the time the assaults took place; since then understanding of the nature of sexual offending and the impact of trauma on vulnerable young victims has resulted in sentencing guidelines that are more reflective of the trauma suffered. Had the offences taken place today a minimum sentence of 8 years would be implemented and the maximum would be life imprisonment.
Fay Maxted, Chief Executive Officer of The Survivors Trust, says:
“The sentence Harris has been given reflects how little society understood of the impact of the sexual abuse of children and the long term effects on adults at the time these offences were committed. Even using present day law and guidelines, sentencing often fails to reflect the seriousness of the impact of sexual abuse on victims.”
Fay Maxted added:
“In delivering the sentence, Mr Justice Sweeney made the extraordinary comment that Harris had ‘led an upright life since 1994’, despite the fact that as late as 2012 Harris was downloading indecent images of children, including 33 images of boys and girls on his computer from a range of websites, looking at the images ‘over and over again’. The decision was taken not to proceed with these offences.
“For a man who abused his position of trust, used his celebrity status as a shield and who has shown no remorse for his actions, the sentence is not enough and I welcome the referral to the Attorney General under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.”