Teenager 'developed eating disorder after Harris assault'

Bindi Harris, Rolf Harris and Alwen Hughes Mr Harris arrived at court with his wife (r) and daughter

A teenage girl developed an eating disorder and abandoned her dream of becoming a theatre star after Rolf Harris abused her, a court has heard.

Australian Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she was on a theatre trip to the UK in 1986 when the entertainer fondled her.

She told Southwark Crown Court the incident had left her depressed, like she "didn't have a place in the world".

Mr Harris, 84, from Bray, Berkshire, denies 12 counts of indecent assault.

He is accused of assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986, when they were aged between seven or eight and 19.

Three of the counts relate to Ms Lee.

Tonya Lee in the 1980s Ms Lee, seen here in the 1980s, gave up theatre after the alleged assault

Ms Lee, now 43, said she was 15 when Mr Harris asked her to sit on his lap, before moving his hand up her leg and assaulting her.

The musician, artist and TV presenter is said to have met the girl's youth theatre group at Heathrow Airport, later going with them for dinner at a pub.

It was there he is alleged to have carried out the assault.

Passion lost

Ms Lee told the court that the incident left her "petrified" and that she "stopped eating" and would "throw up" during the group's six-week trip.

She said she lost weight as a result and had continuing health problems.

"I became very depressed," she told the court of her return home from the trip.

She stopped going to her theatre group, she said.

"I just wasn't there any more, I'd lost that passion, I'd lost that desire.

"There were days when I'd be lying in bed and I'd find it difficult to function. My schoolwork started to suffer. I just didn't feel like I really fit in anywhere. I used to feel like I didn't have a place in the world."

'Very subtle'

Describing the alleged assault, Ms Lee said: "He was moving back and forth rubbing against me.

"It was very subtle, it wasn't big movements. Everything just seemed to be going on as normal."

Tonya Lee Tonya Lee left in a car with police officers after giving evidence

The jury heard that Mr Harris then patted her on the thigh and moved his hand up.

Ms Lee said she felt "very uncomfortable" when Mr Harris touched her genitals over her clothing.

She said she "started to panic" and rushed off to the toilet.

"I was wondering what to do... and also I was confused," she said.

"The whole time this was happening just normal interaction was going on."

Waiting for her

She said when she came out of the toilet Mr Harris was waiting for her and gave her "a big bear hug" before putting his hand down her top.

She added that she was "gobsmacked" and "in complete disbelief" when he then put his hand down her skirt.

Ms Lee said: "I just wanted to burst into tears at that stage, and I just wanted to run."

Ms Lee said she decided not to speak out at the time because the theatre group's artistic director, Kathy Henkel, was a friend of Mr Harris's.

"I was petrified... I was in shock," she said.

She said she thought no one would believe her if she said anything "because it was Rolf Harris".

Under cross-examination, Ms Lee admitted selling her story to the Australian media.

She said accepting the money had been a "huge mistake" which she regretted.

The case continues.

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