A QUIRINDI woman has branded Rolf Harris a “vicious beast” and spoken of the harrowing night the disgraced entertainer sexually abused her multiple times.
Nina Bekker, a former casual teacher at Quirindi Public and Quirindi High, still bears the mental scars of the night in 1978 when, as a 14-year-old, she was molested by Harris in a Sydney motel room. Harris was this week convicted on 12 charges of predatory sex attacks between 1968 and 1986 and will be sentenced in London tonight (AEDT).
“I had never so much as held hands with a boy – Rolf Harris took advantage of my complete naivety and inexperience with men,” Ms Bekker, 50, told a British newspaper.
“I can never forgive him for that.”
She recalled how Harris and celebrity environmentalist Harry Butler arrived in a motel dining room she was at with her family.
Ms Bekker approached Harris to interview him for a school project and was invited back to his room for a “chat”.
“As soon as we were in the lift, Rolf Harris began to touch me,” she said.
“He pinched my buttocks and seemed to think it was funny that I was embarrassed by this.
“I felt very uncomfortable with the way he was touching me but it was difficult to object because it was projected as innocent, playful teasing. When we got out of the lift his behaviour became more intrusive.
“Rolf Harris walked behind me and as he did, he pressed his stomach and groin into my back and put his arms over my shoulders in a kind of hug, except that his hands were cupped over my breasts.
“He was making a pinching action with his fingers more or less tweaking my breasts in time to a sing-song nursery rhyme tune. I remember he called me a ‘little wriggly one’ and sang something like ‘legs like spaghetti and breasts like ripe plums’ which rhymed with ‘tiddle um pum pum’ – I now know this is a line from one of his songs. This was incredibly humiliating for me. The behaviour of Rolf Harris was absolutely devastating.”
The abuse at the hands of Harris continued when she returned to her room to get a pen. Ms Bekker was willing to testify against Harris in London but was not called by the prosecution.
“I was in the motel room, putting an ink cartridge into my pen when Rolf Harris entered the room behind me. He asked me what I was doing and took the pen and cartridge from me. In doing so, he spilled ink all over my school rucksack,” she said.
“He asked me to show him my hands, saying something to the effect that ‘we didn’t want inky pinkies’.
“When I held my hands up, he took my wrists and raised my hands toward his neck and shoulders and started to try to make me hug him.
“He was saying ‘come on, how about you give an old bloke a hug, Rolfie deserves a cuddle doesn’t he?’.
“He was speaking in a coaxing voice and seemed to ignore that I was clearly uncomfortable with this. I was holding my hands like closed fists so that he could not imagine that I had any intention of hugging him and I was pulling away from him.
“He released my wrists and moved his arms under mine, preventing me from lowering them and he reached around and grabbed my buttocks and lifted me up toward him and he crouched down in an awkward stance, bending his knees into a grotesque posture. For the first time in my life I reacted strongly and shoved him away.”
Ms Bekker fled the room but Harris followed, wedging his arm between the closing door of the lift as she tried to escape.
“As soon as the lift closed, he stood in front of me, put one arm around me as though to hug me, but grabbed my wrist and held me in an arm lock, which effectively forced my back to arch and pushed my chest toward him,” she said.
“In the same action he put his other hand inside my shirt and put his hand over my breasts, commenting in a matter of fact voice that ‘my breasts really were like lovely ripe plums’.
“His behaviour was not about sexual gratification, it was about disempowering women, humiliating them. It reflects his whole attitude to women.”
Ms Bekker was willing to testify against Harris at his trial but was not called by the prosecution.
She said the assaults had a profound impact on her life, triggering panic attacks when she was in close proximity to stranger or smelt male aftershave or sweat.
“It shows in the way she relates to people,” her daughter Hannah said.
“I see it in the way she lacks confidence in so many things, and how she questions herself. It’s like she carries these injuries which don’t ever go away.”