An Australian make-up artist who was abused by Rolf Harris when she started her career recalls the harrowing ordeal following his death.
Harris, 93, died in the UK of neck cancer on May 10, less than a decade after being found guilty by a jury of molesting four girls and young women.
Suzi Dent was one of the women targeted by the disgraced Australian entertainer and has opened up about the terrifying abuse.
Ms. Dent also shared a strong message for the other victims abused by Harris, saying she hoped his death would provide some sort of closure for them.
Suzi Dent was a young make-up artist working for Channel Seven when she met Rolf Harris in 1986
Mrs Dent, then 23, was over the moon when she was offered a job in 1986 to work with one of her childhood idols as a make-up artist in a Channel Seven studio.
It was an experience she will never forget and ended when she hid in a closet after being harassed by Harris all day on set.
Ms Dent was an anonymous character witness in Harris’ trial in the UK a decade ago and helped put him behind bars after he was charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against girls and a young woman between 1968 and 1986.
Despite her gruesome encounter, her first thought was of Harris’s wife Alwen and daughter Bindi when news of his death broke on Tuesday night.
“Even though he was a disgraced pedophile, my heart went out to them to be honest,” Ms Dent told Sunrise on Wednesday.
“We have to think of the people closest to him, even though we know he is a disgraced pedophile. There are still family who love him’
Ms Dent said her thoughts also went out to Harris’s other victims.
Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris (pictured in the early days of his career) has died aged 93
“It ends for me and I hope it ends for the other victims,” she said.
“But just because he’s dead doesn’t mean his other survivors have put an end to themselves, so I hope and pray that they will and that he can be the start of their healing journey, if they haven’t already begun.
“Because forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves.”
Mrs. Dent was working at Channel Seven when she was given the job of being Harris’s make-up artist for the day.
By the end of the day, she hid in a closet to avoid him after Harris assaulted her several times.
She still has vivid memories of the harrowing ordeal nearly four decades later.
Suzi Dent (pictured) sympathizes with the family of Rolf Harris and his victims after his death
“I was assaulted by him several times on set in front of everyone, where he just ran his hands down my legs and my shorts and he kept touching me all day long,” Ms Dent said.
“At the end of the day, I knew very well that I wouldn’t go back to the small make-up room with him again and take off his make-up, which was very thick at the time because it was video. ‘
Mrs. Dent hid in a large closet across from the studio that allowed her to peer down the hallway.
“When he left he was standing outside my makeup room getting his makeup done and I just hid in the closet and then he was escorted out,” she said.
“I stayed in the closet until he was gone, after being abused by him all day, and I had no backup from any of the men in the crew I worked with, who I had to take care of and protect myself with.
“So I stayed in the closet for about 10 minutes and when I knew he was absolutely gone, I came out and went back to my room and packed my stuff and then I kind of complained about what had been done.”
In 2019, Ms. Dent renounced her anonymity to tell her poignant story publicly for the first time.
Suzi Dent worked for Channel Seven at the time she worked as Rolf Harris makeup artists for a day
Suzie Dent (pictured as a younger woman) first broke her silence about her traumatic experience with Rolf Harris in 2019
“Rolf Harris was the biggest star I’d ever been asked to work with, so I was really excited. I had seen him on television when I was a little girl,” she told ABC’s 7:30 at the time.
She froze when Harris touched her repeatedly.
“I didn’t jump or move or anything like that because it’s my job as a makeup artist not to upset the talent,” she recalled.
“So if I had said something to him or, you know, slapped his hand away — which I might add is not what we were doing in 1986 — it was unacceptable behavior for women to stand up for themselves in that way , they had to cope. on the chin and grin and put up with it and be polite.”
Ms. Dent also wrote a book about her experience, titled Staring Down Rolf Harris, which she hopes will help others.
“It’s a story about telling your truth, being honest and being brave. I want to encourage other Australian women to tell their stories,” she said.