An Australian make-up artist who was molested by disgraced paedophile Rolf Harris has waived her anonymity in order to tell her harrowing story for the very first time.
Back in 1986, Suzi Dent said she was over the moon after she took a job to work with one of the biggest entertainers in the world at the time – Rolf Harris.
At the time, the fresh-faced 24-year-old had only been in the make-up industry for three years and this was going to be the biggest celebrity that she had ever worked on.
The then 56-year-old Rolf Harris arrived at a studio in Sydney, Australia, and Suzi was put to work – but her excitement at meeting the mega star soon turned to disgust.
Suzi claims Harris touched her inappropriately more than 24 times – which she alleges was completely ignored by higher management, who later even “congratulated” her on maintaining composure during the ordeal.
While shaken up, the now 57-year-old said she viewed the incident as a “bad day at work with a dirty old man” – but when Harris was charged with 12 counts of indecent assault of girls and a young woman in 2013, Suzi decided to come forward.
The mum of one immediately contacted the UK police to see if she could assist the prosecution and was flown to London where she appeared as a “bad character witness” during the trial in 2014 – which, along with other testimonies, helped convict Rolf Harris.
Known then only as the ‘Australian Makeup Artist’, Suzi – who lives on the Gold Coast has decided to waive her anonymity granted by the courts in order to tell her story for the very first time.
‘Staring down Rolf Harris’
“Straight after he sat in the makeup chair, he ran one of his hands up my legs, up my thighs and into my baggy shorts,” Suzi said, who now has a son Jack, 18, with her husband Don, 56.
“I was shocked. I was not prepared for that. I was expecting a lovely children’s entertainer – not a dirty old man.”
Over the course of the morning, Suzi claims that Harris groped her at least two dozen times and repeatedly grabbed her leather belt in order to pull her closer to him.
She also claims that Harris was making ‘disgusting comments’ about her body and specifically talked about her legs – which she said made her feel like a ‘piece of meat’.
“I had a rip in my shorts, and he was trying to stick his fingers in there. I’d slap his hand away like he was a naughty boy,” she said.
“There were about six or seven other people standing around, and the director who I guess was like my boss for the day was very friendly with Rolf.
“No one did anything to stop him, and I couldn’t fight back because the number one rule back then – and now - was you never upset the talent.
“I had to be a good little girl, and it was the mentality that boys will be boys.”
Suzi said she felt so unsafe around Harris that when it came time to remove his makeup after he was finished being on television, she hid in a nearby cupboard until he left because she did not want to be alone in a room with him.
And even after she complained to another senior makeup artist about Harris’s behaviour, Suzi claims she was told the Rolf was known as ‘The Octopus’ – and being touched was to be expected.
Suzi said although she moved on from the incident, she never forgot what Rolf Harris did.
In 2014, Harris was found guilty on 12 counts of indecent assault and was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail. He has since been released on parole.
Now, over 30 years since her harrowing encounter, Suzi has put her life story into words in her audiobook ‘Staring Down Rolf Harris’.
“When I was in the courtroom, Rolf was in a huge glass box. I was advised not to look at him,” she said.
“But when I was finished, his lawyer called me a liar. I was so angry that I got off the stand and glared straight at him.
“He didn’t look at me once, he turned his entire chair away from me. It was the actions of a guilty man.”
To listen to Suzi’s audiobook, visit http://www.suzident.com/staring-down-rolf-harris.
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